Dissertation Abstracts

This is how we do it: Knowledge and practices of hypertensive patients

Author: Xavier, Beatriz , xavier.beatriz@gmail.com
Department: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
University: New Lisbon University, Portugal
Supervisor: Doutor José Manuel Vieira Soares de Resende
Year of completion: 2015
Language of dissertation: Portuguese

Keywords: , illness experience , lifestyles , narratives , hypertension
Areas of Research: Health , Clinical Sociology


Understanding the risk factors related to the onset of diseases and establishing associations with the so-called lifestyles add moral connotations, and a duty of self-discipline and responsibility to the illness experience. These principles have been repeatedly emphasized in Public Health discourses and policies, particularly regarding cardiovascular diseases. Those have a huge epidemiological, economic, and social impact, and is important reduce their high incidence in the population, as it is the case in Portugal.
As a chronic illness and cardiovascular risk factor, hypertension forces patients to a regular medical control and pharmacological treatment, and impels them to commit to healthy eating and appropriate physical exercise. Based on interviews conducted to hypertensive patients in a specific consultation in Primary Health Care, different ways of managing hypertension were found, reflecting the existence of multiple rationalities, evaluations, and practical valuations of the health/disease behaviors and the body itself.
The interviewed hypertensive patients consider that hypertension is not a “real disease”, as it is mainly seen as a consequence of the aging process and the excesses accumulated in the body as a result of life itself.
In the narratives of the illness experience, the concepts of moderation and balance (“be careful”) seem to work as a mechanism to reconcile both medical recommendations and individual practices.
This study shows that hypertensive patients have the ability to find their own ways of managing the illness and the fear, such as controlling the risk factors or ignoring them. In any case, the representations and practices of hypertension and associated medical recommendations are integrated into the patients’ daily practices, adjusting themselves to habits and representations already in place, and reflecting the different behaviors of hypertensive patients.