Explanatory models of hypertension among Nigerian patients at a University Teaching Hospital

Kelly D. Taylor, Ayoade Adedokun, Olugbenga Awobusuyi, Peju Adeniran, Elochukwu Onyia, Gbenga Ogedegbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To elicit the explanatory models (EM) of hypertension among patients in a hospital-based primary care practice in Nigeria. Design. Semi-structured in-depth individual interviews and focus groups were conducted with 62 hypertensive patients. Interviews and focus groups were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis was guided by phenomenology and content analysis using qualitative research software ATLAS.ti 5.0. Results. Patients expressed four categories of EM of hypertension: (1) perceptions of hypertension, (2) consequences, (3) effect on daily life, and (4) perception of treatment. Focus group discussions and individual interviews yielded a wide range of insights into the social and cultural factors influencing patients' beliefs and health behavior. Participants were aware of the risks of hypertension. There was disagreement between participants' own understanding of the serious nature of hypertension, the need for long-term treatment, and the desire to take long-term medication. Participants acknowledged the use of traditional medicine (e.g. teas and herbs) and healers. Different themes emerged for men versus women such that women often focused on family issues while men tended to discuss external stressors stemming from work as a cause of hypertension. Men were concerned with frequent urination, decreased libido, and erectile dysfunction. Conclusion. Knowledge gained will inform development of patient-centered treatment plans and targeted behavioral and educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-629
Number of pages15
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Explanatory models
  • Hypertension
  • Illness representations
  • Nigerians
  • Qualitative study
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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