Views of hypertension among young African Americans who vary in their risk of developing hypertension

Margaret R. Savoca, Sara A. Quandt, Conner D. Evans, Tara L. Flint, Allison G. Bradfield, Tiffany B. Morton, Gregory A. Harshfield, David A. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: To describe beliefs about hypertension and health education of young African American adults varying in their hypertension risk status. Design: Fifty-eight African American young adults (17-20 years) were selected based on low and high risk criteria for hypertension assessed in earlier investigations of hemodynamic responses to stress. The sample included 15 high risk males, 13 low risk males, 14 high risk females, and 16 low risk females who were interviewed in-depth about their hypertension beliefs and health education experiences. Variable-based matrices identified participants with similar responses. Results: Overall, participants had a limited understanding of hypertension. For example, they linked the condition to eating a diet high in pork and fat and having a positive family history of hypertension with little acknowledgement of weight, smoking, race and sex as key contributors to hypertension onset. Distinctions were found between risk categories and along sex lines. Most high risk participants believed stress could cause hypertension. High risk females believed that they were at risk for developing hypertension but lacked prevention strategies. High risk males were generally uninformed about risk or prevention. More low risk females believed in prevention compared to few low risk males. Participants reported little formal health education about hypertension and recommended that hypertension education be improved through more effective and relevant approaches in high school health education classes. Conclusions: These findings support the need for comprehensive and revitalized hypertension prevention programs for young African Americans. Participant views varied with hypertension risk status and gender suggesting that targeted educational efforts should reflect these differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-34
Number of pages7
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • African Americans
  • Chronic disease prevention
  • Health disparities
  • Health literacy
  • Hypertension
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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