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Hypertension, family history, and the young adult

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Kahl, Mary J.
Udlis, Kim
MS, Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
Apr 2011
Health behavior; Blood pressure; Cardiovascular systems - Diseases; Youth - Health and hygiene
Despite advances in the understanding and treatment of hypertension(HTN), prevalence continues to rise in the United States. Alarmingly, this increase has also been seen in the younger population, partially related to the growing trend in obesity and poor lifestyles choices. Since perceived risk is a key factor in promoting change, persons viewing the risk factors for developing HTN, such as family history, as a potential threat to their health may be more likely to take action to try and prevent the disease. The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in knowledge and perceptions of HTN between young adults who have a parental family history of HTN and those with a non-parental or no family history of HTN. The Health Belief Model was used to guide this study. A descriptive, comparative design was employed. A demographic and Health Belief Model questionnaire on HTN was sent electronically to 500 students at one Midwestern university. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample. Independent t-tests and chi-square analyses were used to explore the differences in knowledge and perceptions of HTN between the groups. The final sample size was 27 students. Thirteen of the respondents reported a parental family history of HTN, 10 reported a non-parental family history and four reported no family history of HTN. No significant differences were found between the groups when comparing knowledge, perceived susceptibility, perceived benefits and barriers and perceived severity of HTN. The small sample size significantly reduced the power of study. However, as the prevalence of HTN continues to rise in the younger population, further studies should be performed exploring perceived knowledge and perceptions of HTN.
A Clinical Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
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