Patient experiences with hypertension in the Georgia Stroke Heart Attack Prevention Program
Rimando, Marylen Cataquiz
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Hypertension is a major public health problem today in the United States, affecting more than 73 million Americans or approximately 33% of the population. The purpose of the study is to understand the lived experiences of older adult patients diagnosed with uncontrolled hypertension. The site of data collection was the Northeast Georgia Health District Cardiovascular Health Clinic at the Clarke County Health Department. This clinic participates in the statewide Georgia Stroke Heart Attack and Prevention Program (SHAPP), implemented since 1974. The selection criteria of the sample (N = 29) were White and African American male and female patients aged 55 and above, an active SHAPP client, and controlled or uncontrolled hypertension from the two previous clinic visits. Most participants were African American women. Semi-structured, in depth qualitative interviews were conducted with each patient. Common experiences included positive clinic experiences with the SHAPP nurse, compliance with medications, disbelief at the time of the first hypertension diagnosis, maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors, and negative experiences with previous private physicians. There were no differences found in the experiences of White and African Americans. In terms of gender differences, men reported less stress in their daily lives as compared to women. Overall, the participants reported high self-efficacy and were empowered to control their blood pressure. These results can inform healthcare providers about the hypertension perceptions among African Americans in this sample and the successful stories of patients who incorporated lifestyle changes and have managed to control their blood pressure. These results will contribute to the understanding of hypertension from the patient’s perspective and aid future efforts in designing culturally sensitive chronic disease management programs and educational tools to reduce the hypertension prevalence and improve the compliance rates among the African American adult population. The stories of these participants illustrate that older adults diagnosed with hypertension need to be treated as individuals with care, respect, and compassion particularly those populations who are low educated, unemployed, and uninsured.