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Illness Perceptions and Health Behaviors of Black Women

Stallings, Devita T. PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000276
ARTICLES: Prevention

The Common Sense Model of Illness Representations proposes that representations or perceptions of illness drive health behaviors. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationships between hypertension representations, exercise, and dietary behaviors in hypertensive black women (N = 204, aged 18–65 years). Regression results revealed that perceiving hypertension as chronic and perceiving it a result of environmental causes were inversely related to moderate-intensity physical activity (β = −.15 [P = .05] and β = −.25 [P = .05], respectively). Having more emotional responses to hypertension (β = .23, P = .05) was related to moderate-intensity physical activity and more fruit and vegetable consumption (β = .28, P = .05). These findings suggest that hypertension representations can interfere with recommended lifestyle changes among black women. Assessing hypertension representations and implementing measures to clarify misperceptions of hypertension among black women may lead to better blood pressure control and health outcomes.

Devita T. Stallings, PhD, RN Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, Missouri.

Results of this research study were presented as a poster presentation at the Midwest Nursing Research Society’s annual research conference in April 2012.

The author has no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence Devita T. Stallings, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, 3525 Caroline Mall, St Louis, MO 63104 (

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