Integration of Medical Regimens in Daily Lives: Living in Risk with Blood Pressure

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Beatriz XAVIER, Nursing School of Coimbra, Portugal, CICS.NOVA New Lisbon University, Portugal
The study purpose was to understand the representations and practices of hypertensive patients towards their risk status and the way in which they make use of the consultation and medical recommendations. Qualitative research methodologies were used: interviews and direct observation of the consultation.

Interviews were conducted with 41 patients, focusing on the analysis of three main aspects: the process of disease and risk interpretation; the way in which patients’ behaviors are shaped by the construed meanings; and the processes of coping with the disease on a daily basis.

The results reveal three standard models of “being a hypertensive patient”: proactive, compliant, and detached. We can conclude that patients who are followed-up and guided through the process of leading healthier lives, through the individualization and internalization of medical and social norms and complying with the treatment, show different and unique ways of acting and combining medical information with the experience of coping with the disease and their everyday experiences.

The patients’ self-assessment on what they should do and what they actually do reveals the idea of non-compliance with basic hygiene principles and its consequent moral judgements. People with blood pressure use the concepts and ideas of moderation, care and balance as mechanisms of operationalization between medical recommendations and their behaviors. They agree on the principles for a healthier lifestyle recommended by the doctor. However, this is seen as a result of personal effort and will against the structural trends of organization of work and consumption and therefore very difficult to accomplish.