Background: In line with the Philippines' National Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Programme, a study was conducted among young adults to determine their concepts and conceptualization of hypertension: its causation, prevention and consequences.
Method: Focus group discussions, conducted in the region with the highest prevalence of hypertension in the Philippines, 73 males and females were participated in the age group of 20-39 years, without medical history of the disease and with no training or employment in a health-related field.
Results: Hypertension was perceived not as a discrete disease but interrelated with diseases having 'blood-origin' and common signs and symptoms. It was conceptualized as having multiple causes, acting singly or in combination, with too little or too much food and physical activity as among the causal factors. Perceived pathways in its development were systematic and included both traditional and scientific biomedical concepts. Hypertension was considered a problem not only in the affected individual but also the family.
Conclusion: The concepts of hypertension of young adults are multidimensional, interconnected and linked to their day-to-day living. In thus conceptualizing the disease, they are able to make sense of it and, when respected by dietetic practitioners, provide guidance for improved communication. The introduction of scientific concepts of hypertension by nutrition and health professionals should draw from, inform and build on, existing lay perceptions.