Cultural beliefs and hypertension in rural Philippines

Cielito Cuerpo Reyes-Gibby, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Hypertension (HTN), the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), is emerging as a major public health problem in the Philippines. CVD has been the leading cause of mortality in the Philippines since 1990. Although research has shown that certain populations have a greater propensity for HTN, and that culture may be a factor, empirical investigations of the influence of cultural beliefs on HTN are lacking. The operational aims of this study were to: (a) develop and examine the reliability (test-retest, internal consistency) and validity (content) of a questionnaire which measures factors related to HTN; (b) administer the questionnaire; and (c) measure blood pressure, height, and weight of the [special characters omitted]30 year old residents of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, Philippines. The analytic aims were to determine the: (a) cultural beliefs relating to HTN; (b) associations between cultural beliefs and HTN; and (c) extent to which cultural beliefs versus biological, behavioral, socioeconomic, and access factors are associated with HTN. A cluster survey was conducted among 336 residents [special characters omitted]30 years old in May, 1998. Sixty clusters of households were derived using probability proportionate to size sampling technique. Seven households per cluster were visited and one respondent per household was randomly chosen for interview and measurement of blood pressure, height and weight. A response rate of 84% (336/400) was achieved. Results showed that the test-retest reliability of cultural belief items was 0.69–0.96. Internal consistency reliability was 0.74. HTN (SBP [special characters omitted] 140; or DBP [special characters omitted] 90 mmHg; or currently taking anti-hypertensive medication) prevalence was 23/100. Univariate logistic regression showed cultural beliefs to be significantly associated (p < 0.037) with HTN. However, multivariate analysis showed that only age [special characters omitted]50 (p = 0.000), family history of HTN (p = 0.004) and body mass index [special characters omitted]25 (p = 0.003) were significant predictors. In the absence of fully implemented programs to prevent and control HTN, the current prevalence is only expected to increase, leading to substantial increases in morbidity and mortality and health care cost. It is recommended that research which focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating culturally appropriate community-wide programs on HTN prevention and control be undertaken in this community.

Subject Area

Public health|Cultural anthropology

Recommended Citation

Reyes-Gibby, Cielito Cuerpo, "Cultural beliefs and hypertension in rural Philippines" (1998). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9927547.