Behavioral medicine approaches to hypertension: An integrative analysis of theory and research

Gary E. Schwartz, Alvin P. Shapiro, Daniel P. Redmond, Donald C.E. Ferguson, David R. Ragland, Stephen M. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This article compares behavioral and biological approaches to hypertension, highlights some of the practical, semantic, and theoretical issues involved, and attempts a constructive, behavioral medicine integration of these approaches. The major behavioral approaches to hypertension are described, with a focus on their conceptual limitations as stimulants to research into psychobiological mechanisms. A biobehavioral systems analysis of hypertension is outlined, emphasizing the role of the central nervous system as a common pathway relating environmental and behavioral factors to cardiovascular regulatory dynamics and disease. Schwartz's concept of blood pressure disregulation is discussed, by which behavioral "feedback loops" may be included in the pathogenesis of homeostatic disorders. A detailed discussion of concepts underlying the clinical pharmacological approach to hypertension is provided; parallels are drawn between the conceptual framework and the theoretical and practical questions facing behavioral researchers concerned with hypertension. Synergistic interactive effects of drug and behavioral treatments are proposed. A biobehavioral overview, which links pressor and depressor stimulus patterns to both pathogenesis and therapy, can serve to integrate the previous biobehavioral systems analysis, the conceptual framework of clinical pharmacology, and the notion of biobehavioral disregulation of blood pressure. Implications for future behavioral medicine research in hypertension are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-363
Number of pages53
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1979


  • behavioral medicine
  • hypertension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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