Objectives: We describe clinician-reported knowledge of the Joint National Committee (JNC7) on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure definitions of Stage I hypertension; perceived causes of elevated blood pressure; barriers to blood pressure re-assessment; risk of adverse events associated with the elevated blood pressure.
Methods: Health care providers from five emergency departments completed a questionnaire assessing knowledge of blood pressure criteria for hypertension, perceived causes of elevated blood pressures, barriers to re-assessment, and perceived risk of an adverse event at one year in a patient within three defined systolic and diastolic blood pressure ranges. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.
Results: Seventy-two percent (379/524) of providers (68 attending physicians, 87 residents, 209 nurses, and 15 nurse practitioners) completed questionnaires. One hundred and four providers (27%) correctly listed the systolic and diastolic criteria for Stage 1 hypertension. Nurses and physicians rated uncontrolled, known hypertension [mean (standard deviation)] [8.7 (2.1), 8.9 (1.9)] the highest and pain [8.3 (2.3), 8.3 (2.1)] as the second highest cause of elevated BP. Nurses and physicians rated the lack of time to perform a reassessment [5.2 (3.4), 4.7 (2.8)] and a lack of adequate staffing [4.7 (3.4), 4.6 (2.9)] the highest as barriers to re-assessment. Nurses' mean adverse risk assessment twice that of physicians.
Discussion: Twenty seven percent of providers were aware of the JNC7 criteria and often attributed elevated blood pressures to chronic, uncontrolled hypertension, pain or anxiety. No single barrier to repeating elevated blood pressures was identified.
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