Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Phillip J. Brantley


This study examined whether minor, chronic, and major stressors predicted poor blood pressure control in low-income hypertensives, and whether social support served as a moderator of this relation. Additionally, whether the construct of social support served as an independent predictor of poor blood pressure control was also examined. Participants included 231 patients randomly recruited from primary care medicine clinics at a public medical center. The sample included in this study was selected from an existing data set. The existing data set consisted of 432 patients randomly chosen on consecutive days from a family practice and an internal medicine medical clinic at a public teaching hospital. All participants were determined to have hypertension and categorized as having either controlled or uncontrolled hypertension by a primary care physician. Participants were administered a demographic form, the Weekly Stress Inventory (WSI), the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL), questioned about their cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, and their Body Mass Inventory (BMI) was assessed. Following recruitment, the WSI was administered bimonthly over the telephone for 10 months and in-person at a twelve-month follow-up interview. Participants were also administered the ISEL, and their BMI was reassessed at the twelve-month interview. Finally, participants were administered the Life Events Schedule (LES) at the six-month telephone interview and at the twelve-month follow-up interview. The sample consisted of predominantly African-American (82%), unemployed (62%), females (77%), with a mean age of 51 (+/-11) years. Mean income of the sample was +/-509.74 (+/-453.62). A total of 61 (26%) individuals had controlled blood pressure and 170 (74%) were uncontrolled. Stress was not found to predict blood pressure control in this sample of low-income individuals attending primary care clinics. Social support was also not found to predict blood pressure control, or moderate the association between stress and uncontrolled hypertension. However, a logistic regression revealed that prescription of a calcium channel antihypertensive medication and number of missed appointments were significant predictors of blood pressure control. Factors which may have contributed to the negative findings were identified, and suggestions are made for future research.