, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 1626-1634
Date: 21 Jul 2012

The Role of Patients’ Explanatory Models and Daily-Lived Experience in Hypertension Self-Management

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ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Uncontrolled hypertension remains a significant problem for many patients. Few interventions to improve patients’ hypertension self-management have had lasting effects. Previous work has focused largely on patients’ beliefs as predictors of behavior, but little is understood about beliefs as they are embedded in patients’ social contexts.

OBJECTIVE

This study aims to explore how patients’ “explanatory models” of hypertension (understandings of the causes, mechanisms or pathophysiology, course of illness, symptoms and effects of treatment) and social context relate to their reported daily hypertension self-management behaviors.

DESIGN

Semi-structured qualitative interviews with a diverse group of patients at two large urban Veterans Administration Medical centers.

PARTICIPANTS (OR PATIENTS OR SUBJECTS)

African-American, white and Latino Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care patients with uncontrolled blood pressure.

APPROACH

We conducted thematic analysis using tools of grounded theory to identify key themes surrounding patients’ explanatory models, social context and hypertension management behaviors.

RESULTS

Patients’ perceptions of the cause and course of hypertension, experiences of hypertension symptoms, and beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment were related to different hypertension self-management behaviors. Moreover, patients’ daily-lived experiences, such as an isolated lifestyle, serious competing health problems, a lack of habits and routines, barriers to exercise and prioritizing lifestyle choices, also interfered with optimal hypertension self-management.

CONCLUSIONS

Designing interventions to improve patients’ hypertension self-management requires consideration of patients’ explanatory models and their daily-lived experience. We propose a new conceptual model — the dynamic model of hypertension self-management behavior — which incorporates these key elements of patients’ experiences.