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medication adherence, African American women, hypertension, hypertension illness beliefs



  1. Spikes, Telisa RN, PhD
  2. Higgins, Melinda PhD
  3. Lewis, Tene PhD
  4. Dunbar, Sandra RN, PhD, FAAN, FAHA, FPCNA


Background: Poor adherence to hypertensive medication has been suggested to be a major contributor to uncontrolled hypertension (HTN) in African Americans. The impact that social determinants have on the various patient-level factors, including HTN beliefs, mental well-being, and social support, may provide insight into the development and tailoring of culturally targeted interventions, thus improving adherence.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the relationships of exposures to contextualized racial and gendered stressors, social support, and depressive symptoms with HTN illness perceptions and blood pressure (BP) medication adherence.


Methods: Participants (N = 85) were hypertensive African-American women aged 18 to 45 years (mean [SD], 39.2 [5.4] years) recruited from the community setting and outpatient medical clinics in a large metropolitan city. Hypertension illness beliefs were assessed using the 8-item Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire ("How much does your blood pressure affect your life?") and medication adherence was assessed with the 7-item Adherence to Refills and Medication Scale ("How often do you forget to take your BP medicine?"). Logistic regression analyses were performed to examine the associations with medication adherence and linear regression analyses were performed to examine the associations of continuous variables and HTN illness perceptions.


Results: The sample was predominantly nonadherent (81.2%). In the adjusted multivariable regression model, systolic BP (odds ratio, 0.95; P = .05) and the "Consequence" dimension of HTN beliefs (odds ratio, 0.76; P = .02) were associated with medication adherence. In the adjusted linear regression model, systolic BP ([beta] = 0.22, P < .01) and depressive symptoms ([beta] = 1.11, P < .01) were associated with HTN illness beliefs.


Conclusions: Assessing beliefs and the mental well-being before initiating BP medications is essential for adherence and BP control.