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Gerontologist. 1997 Oct;37(5):609-19.

Adherence to antihypertensive medications across the life span.

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  • 1Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106-1248, USA.


Although treatment for hypertension is readily available, poor control of hypertension is a major health problem frequently manifested in late life. Researchers believe that one of the major causes of uncontrolled hypertension is failure to take medication as directed. In this preliminary study, the medication-taking behaviors of 48 adults diagnosed with hypertension, ranging in age from 35 to 87, were recorded for 2 months with credit card-sized bar-code scanners. The social-cognitive model (Park, 1992) for understanding medication adherence, which proposes that medication adherence is governed by both beliefs and cognitive factors, was used as a basis for this research. Therefore, measures of health behaviors, attitudes about health and medication taking, and cognitive function were recorded, as well as blood pressure readings. The main findings were that (a) the oldest-old and groups of middle-aged adults were the most nonadherent, whereas the young-old were more likely to adhere than the other age groups; (b) high blood pressure readings predicted adherence to antihypertensive medications; and (c) medication beliefs influenced adherence in some situations.

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