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Dis Manag. 2008 Apr;11(2):71-7. doi: 10.1089/dis.2008.1120007.

Identifying barriers to hypertension care: implications for quality improvement initiatives.

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Forsyth Medical Group, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.


The role of clinical inertia in the treatment of patients with hypertension was assessed by evaluating health care providers' knowledge, attitudes, and clinical practices regarding hypertension management. A cross-sectional survey was conducted at the Forsyth Medical Group in North Carolina. Participants were physicians (N = 18, 10 sites) and support staff (N = 20, 12 sites), who were surveyed in 2006. Physician and support staff questionnaires consisted of 29 and 15 items, respectively, and were administered by trained interviewers. Though most physicians (94%) cited familiarity with the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC-7) guidelines and affirmed that hypertension management guidelines are relevant to their patients, no physicians interviewed routinely document patient hypertension management plans. Although 1 in 3 physicians cited the inability to devote enough time to patients for the discussion of hypertension management, physicians predominantly cited patient- and support-staff- related factors as most important to patients not attaining blood pressure (BP) goal. Patient lifestyle modification (89%), education (67%), and medication compliance (56%) were cited as the most important reasons for uncontrolled BP. Only one-third of physicians believe that clinical staff always obtain accurate BP measurements, and 61% believe that resistant hypertension is a reflection of inaccurate BP measurement. Many support staff claimed to be rushed when measuring patient BP, and 65% recommended BP competency training. Contradictions were evident between provider knowledge of hypertension management standards and how this knowledge is applied in clinical practice. Standardized collection of BP is critical to measuring clinical improvement in hypertension. Results are being utilized to develop clinical improvement initiatives including staff education and competency training.

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