Commonsense illness beliefs, adherence behaviors, and hypertension control among African Americans

J Behav Med. 2008 Oct;31(5):391-400. doi: 10.1007/s10865-008-9165-4. Epub 2008 Jul 10.


Hypertension, particularly among African Americans, has been increasing in importance in the past 10 years. One aspect of this problem is poor disease management. This study examined illness beliefs, behaviors, and hypertension control among 102 African American outpatients. Participants were interviewed about their commonsense beliefs concerning hypertension and its management in accordance with Leventhal's commonsense model of self-regulation (CSM). Also assessed were medication adherence, stress-reducing behaviors, and lifestyle behaviors recommended for blood pressure control. Blood pressure was measured at about the time of interviewing. Results indicated that endorsement of a medical belief model of hypertension (i.e., caused and controlled by factors such as diet, age, and weight) was cross-sectionally associated with lower systolic blood pressure, a relationship that was statistically mediated by lifestyle behaviors (e.g., cut down salt, exercise). Endorsement of a stress belief model (i.e., stress is the main factor in hypertension cause and control) was associated with engagement in stress-related behaviors but not with blood pressure. These results further support the utility of the CSM for understanding patients' disease management behaviors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index
  • Control Groups
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Hypertension / psychology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Antihypertensive Agents