Beliefs about the causes of hypertension and associations with pro-health behaviors.

Objective: To describe behavioral and genetic beliefs about developing hypertension (HTN) by sociodemographic factors and self-reported HTN status, and among those with a history of HTN, evaluate associations between HTN-related causal beliefs and behavior change attempts. Method: Data from the 2014 Health Information National Trends Survey were evaluated. HTN causal beliefs questions included (a) “How much do you think health behaviors like diet, exercise, and smoking determine whether or not a person will develop high blood pressure/HTN?”; and (b) “How much do you think genetics, that is characteristics passed from one generation to the next, determine whether or not a person will develop high blood pressure/HTN?” Multivariate logistic regressions evaluated associations between HTN causal beliefs and behavior change attempts including diet, exercise, and weight management. Results: Approximately 1,602 out of 3,555 respondents with nonmissing data (33% weighted) reported ever having HTN. In logistic regression models, results show that the more strongly people believed in the impact of behavior on developing HTN, the higher their odds for behavior change attempts. Beliefs about genetic causes of HTN were not associated with behavior change attempts. Women had higher odds of attempts to increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce soda intake, and lose weight compared to men. Blacks and Hispanics were significantly more likely than Whites to report attempts to lose weight. Conclusions: Beliefs about behavioral causes of HTN, but not genetic, were associated with behavior change attempts. Health messages that incorporate behavioral beliefs and sociodemographic factors may enhance future prohealth behavior changes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)