Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Rosalind M. Peters


The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the experiences of women with HTN self-managing their perceived BP changes. van Manen's phenomenology methodology and method guided the inquiry, and also guided the existential reflection of the impact of perceived BP changes on the participants' lifeworlds (e.g, lived space, lived body, lived time, and lived relations).

Seven African American and six European American women with HTN who were able to tell if their BP changed based on their symptoms were recruited from community settings and were interviewed once with a semi-structured guide. Participants were middle-aged (M=50.5 years, SD=9.62), experienced in living with HTN (M=10.76 years, SD=9.50), had at least a high school education, and a limited annual income (93% < than $24,000). Interviews were digitally recorded and professionally transcribed. Textual data was analyzed using thematic analysis to identify major themes.

Participants experienced distressful BP changes indicated by body changes and sensations (e.g., headaches, visual disturbances, flushing, and fatigue). One central theme ("getting to normal") and four subthemes (i.e., "I can tell", "tending to it", "the wakeup call", and "doing it right") were discovered in the data. The themes depict a process of episodic symptom-driven and day-to-day actions that the participants used to return their BP to normal.

The study is significant as new knowledge was discovered about how women perceive their BP changes and use them to guide self-management. This knowledge builds nursing science by explicating the concept of self-care operations within the theory of self-care, and contributes to clinical practice through suggestions for improving patient assessments. Results serve as a foundation for further research of the self-management of BP changes and the development of belief-based interventions with the potential to improve BP control.

Included in

Nursing Commons