An inquiry into medication meanings, illness, medication use, and the transformative potential of chronic illness among African Americans with hypertension

Hema Viswanathan*, Bruce L. Lambert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Hypertension is a chronic illness with serious economic and clinical consequences. The asymptomatic nature of this condition contributes to the challenge of persistent medication use. Objectives: The objectives of this qualitative study were to explore perceptions of medication meanings, illness, identity, and biographical disruption among people with hypertension, and to examine how salient themes and categories relate to medication use. Methods: In-person interviews were conducted with 20 participants. Eligibility criteria included being 18 years or older, diagnosed with hypertension, and currently taking antihypertensive drug treatment. Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. Data were analyzed with grounded theory methodology using coding techniques and constant comparison. Results: All participants were African American and most were between 45 and 64 years. Key themes including perceptions of the medication being effective, lifesaving, part of life, and a reminder of the regimen were found to have a positive impact on medication use. Themes including fear of side effects, fear of dependency, forgetting to take medication, the medication being a hassle, and the experience of medication-related sexual side effects were found to be negatively related to medication use. Participants were cognizant of consequences of uncontrolled hypertension, and illness control was important to them. Biographical disruption was minimal. Taking medications and changing diet were the most significant changes in the lives of participants after being diagnosed with hypertension. Achievement of lifestyle modifications had a positive impact on identity. Conclusions: Findings contribute to our understanding of medication use behavior and have implications for patient education and counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-39
Number of pages19
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005

Keywords

  • Chronic illness
  • Hypertension
  • Medication use
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An inquiry into medication meanings, illness, medication use, and the transformative potential of chronic illness among African Americans with hypertension'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this