Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Denise Head


There are currently lifestyle modifications and medications that are highly successful in controlling hypertension. Nevertheless, many hypertensive individuals do not implement lifestyle changes and fail to adhere to medication regimens. The current study sought to understand both sociodemographic and intrinsic factors associated with the implementation of recommended lifestyle modifications for treatment of hypertension. The study represents the first step in the application of the Information-Motivation-Behavioral Skills: IMB) model of health behavior and health promotion to hypertension. The primary goal was to provide a profile of the variables relevant for adherence to the multifaceted treatment recommendations for the hypertensive population. 151 participants, aged 55 to 79 with a hypertension diagnosis, completed questionnaires that assessed demographic and socioeconomic status, medical history, gross mental status, personality, self-efficacy, health locus of control, perceived social support, stage of change, and behavioral change since diagnosis of hypertension. The study examined the predictive power of these sociodemographic and intrinsic variables on the recommended lifestyle modifications: medication adherence, physical activity, diet, weight reduction or maintenance of normal weight, moderation of alcohol consumption, and smoking status), as well as total change. The results show there was no set of sociodemographic or intrinsic factors that predicted implementation of all lifestyle modifications. It was found that for most modifications there were intrinsic factors that had limited predictive power. Perceived instrumental social support, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism were predictive of physical activity levels; perceived emotional social support and Conscientiousness were predictive of a healthy diet; and perceived emotional social support and Neuroticism were predictive of total change. In addition, a healthy diet was associated with increased physical activity, lower body mass index: BMI), and greater overall change. Hypertensive patients overall are not consistently implementing the recommended behavioral modifications, and their blood pressure and BMI on average remain above recommended levels. The study revealed that intrinsic factors do play a role in implementation of behavioral recommendations, and that the personality factors of Conscientiousness and Neuroticism along with perceived social support may be important factors to consider when addressing health-related change behavior. In the future these findings could assist researchers with developing individualized treatment paradigms.


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