Health  Vol.8 No.7 , May 2016
Older Adults’ Explanatory Models of High Blood Pressure
Abstract: Shared Explanatory Models (EM) of High Blood Pressure (HBP)/Hypertension (HTN) were explored using systematic data collection and analysis methods from cognitive anthropology. Older adults who were members of a Medicare HMO in Los Angeles were asked to list all the illnesses experienced by older adults that they could recall, and those listing HBP or HTN were asked to further list and discuss its symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention. Responses were tape recorded, transcribed, and analyzed to develop a systematic “sentence completion by card sort” follow-up procedure. Consensus Analysis (CA) of the systematically collected data identified shared EM for HBP/HTN. The model presented here is similar to models of HBP/HTN described by researchers working with patients from different regions and different ethnic groups, suggesting that there is a widely shared lay or popular model for this disease. Stress, life (diet, exercise, weight, and substance use), heredity and aging are thought to be the major causes of HBP/HTN. Physicians are thought to be the appropriate source of care, as HTN/HBP is serious, life threatening, and potentially disabling. The study of cultural understandings and shared EM of disease has direct relevance for clinical practice and public health education. For a disease such as HTN/HBP, knowing where and how such explanations differ systematically between patients and clinicians, and what impact this may have on patterns of adherence to prescribed treatment is a crucial area of concern.
Cite this paper: Hurwicz, M. and Rose, M. (2016) Older Adults’ Explanatory Models of High Blood Pressure. Health, 8, 680-693. doi: 10.4236/health.2016.87072.

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