Social Support, Simpatía, and Hypertension Prevalence in Hispanics/Latinos: Findings from the HCHS/SOL Sociocultural Ancillary Study

J Lat Psychol. 2016 Aug;4(3):131-141. doi: 10.1037/lat0000047. Epub 2015 Sep 7.


There is a significant burden of hypertension in the United States, which extends to the large and growing Hispanic/Latino population. Previous literature suggests that psychosocial factors are related to hypertension in Hispanics/Latinos. However, cultural factors unique to this population have been largely understudied in this context. The purpose of the current investigation was to examine the association of hypertension prevalence with social support and simpatía, a Hispanic/Latino cultural value emphasizing social harmony. Cross-sectional data from 5,313 adult Hispanics/Latinos, age 18 to 75 years, representing multiple heritage groups were collected as part of the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Sociocultural Ancillary Study. Contrary to predictions, higher social support was related to higher odds of hypertension prevalence across models (OR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.22). In the final main effects logistic regression model, higher simpatía was related to lower odds of hypertension (OR = .83, 95% CI: .77, .90). Sex modified the link between simpatía and hypertension, with significant effects for men but not women. A 1 SD increase in simpatía was associated with 36% lower odds of hypertension in Hispanic/Latino men. The findings suggest that social support was inversely related with hypertension prevalence and that simpatía may be a protective cultural characteristic in relation to hypertension in the Hispanic/Latino population, but only in men. These results contribute to a growing discourse about the role of Hispanic/Latino cultural values in cardiovascular health.

Keywords: Hispanic/Latino; blood pressure; hypertension; simpatía; social support.