Objectives: Personal beliefs about illnesses have received increasing interest because these cognitions help to explain and predict preventive and therapeutic coping efforts, adjustment
to a disease and health outcomes. We sought to explore and compare non-specialised
illness representations of hypertension among
adults never suffering from hypertension who had and had not lived with hypertensive
patients. Design: Hypertension representations were explored in a community-based, convenient sample of normotensive
Spanish adults of both genders from different educational backgrounds and with different family experience with this illness. Method: An adapted Illness Perception Questionnaire-R was used to assess such perceptions
among healthy people in nine dimensions: Identity, Time-line, Consequences, Personal Control, Treatment Control, Illness Coherence, Evolution, Emotional
Representations and Causes. Results: The participants’
beliefs mixed accurate and folk knowledge, while gender, age and education
level had little impact, family experience (having or not having a relative with
hypertension) strongly determined the content of hypertension representations.
Participants with family experience held significantly stronger beliefs of controllability of the disease, both by patients and treatments, considered the disease
as less stable and reported a lower emotional impact when thinking on suffering
from hypertension. Family experience was the only significant predictor of illness
cognitions. Conclusions: This study allowed us to know the perceptions of hypertension among non-patients and healthy relatives of patients. Our findings are useful in designing interventions aimed at
hypertension prevention, particularly considering family experience with the disease.
Cite this paper
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