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J Am Board Fam Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;21(4):300-8. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2008.04.070254.

High blood pressure knowledge among primary care patients with known hypertension: a North Carolina Family Medicine Research Network (NC-FM-RN) study.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7595, USA.



We sought to assess primary care patients' current knowledge about various aspects of high blood pressure (BP).


We mailed a questionnaire to 700 hypertensive patients enrolled in a practice-based research network cohort from 24 practices in North Carolina. We determined percentages of respondents (total and by subgroups) incorrectly answering each of 6 questions pertaining to various aspects of high BP. We then examined bivariate and multivariate associations with answering 2 or more items incorrectly ("lower hypertension knowledge").


We received 530 completed surveys (76% response rate). Twenty-six percent (95% CI, 22-30) of respondents did not know that most of the time people with high BP do not feel it. Twenty-two percent (95% CI, 18-26) either were not sure whether anything could be done to prevent high BP or believe that there is nothing that can be done. Nineteen percent (95% CI, 16-22) either believe taking medications will cure high BP or are not sure whether it will. Twenty-two percent (95% CI, 19-26) of respondents had overall lower hypertension knowledge. Independent associations with lower hypertension knowledge were African-American race (odds ratio, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.10-2.86), having less than high school education (odds ratio, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.34-4.41), and history of stroke/mini-stroke (odds ratio, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.00-3.75).


Patients may need to be taught the difference between curing hypertension and treating it with medications. Efforts to educate the public that lifestyle modifications can prevent hypertension and that it usually causes no symptoms need to continue. It seems especially important to develop messages that reach African-Americans and people with less education.

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