Background: A comprehensive understanding of the self-care activities that contribute to blood pressure control may explain health disparities experienced by African Americans with hypertension. This study assessed the prevalence of self-care activities among African Americans with high blood pressure and examined differences between adherers and nonadherers to self-care activities.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with 186 African Americans. Self-care activities were measured using the H-SCALE (Hypertension Self-Care Activity Level Effects), which was developed to assess the behavioral activities recommended for optimal management of high blood pressure.
Results: More than half of participants reported adhering to medication recommendations and prescribed physical activity levels (58.6% and 52.2%, respectively). Following practices related to weight management was less frequent, (30.1%) and adherence to low-salt diet recommendations was also low (22.0%). Three-fourths were nonsmokers and 65% abstained from alcohol. Across the self-care activities, adherers were more likely to be older and female. Nonadherers were more likely to be uninsured.
Conclusions: Many African Americans still face challenges related to hypertension self-care, particularly with weight management and salt reduction. The H-SCALE was a valid and reliable measure of hypertension self-care activities. In addition to monitoring blood pressure, health care providers should assess patients' hypertension self-care activities using the H-SCALE.