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Prev Med. 1997 Sep-Oct;26(5 Pt 1):678-85.

Validity of self-reported hypertension in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, 1988-1991.

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  • 1National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782, USA.



The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is the main data source for hypertension surveillance. However, because of a gap of almost 10 years between each NHANES, self-reported data from annual surveys need to be examined as an alternative data source. This study analyzes the validity of self-reported hypertension in a national sample of non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican-Americans.


Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values positive (PVP) and negative (PVN) of self-reported hypertension were calculated against two definitions of hypertension: the definition recommended by the Third Joint National Committee on Hypertension, JNC III (blood pressure > or = 140/90 and/or taking antihypertension medication) and a broader definition including control with lifestyle modifications. Data used come from the NHANES III, 1988-1991.


Overall test characteristics using the JNC III definition are sensitivity 71%, specificity 90%, PVP 72%, and PVN 89%. Test characteristics were consistently higher for the broad than for the JNC III definition. Validity of self-reported hypertension is higher among women than among men and among persons with a medical visit during the past year than among those with no visits: validity was lowest among Mexican-American men. Due to the similarity between sensitivity and PVP, the prevalence of self-reported hypertension is nearly equal to the prevalence of JNC III-defined hypertension.


Self-reported hypertension may be used for surveillance of hypertension trends, in the absence of measured blood pressure, among non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic black women and persons with a medical visit in the past year. Validation should be repeated with each NHANES.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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