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Physician reported perception in the treatment of high blood pressure does not correspond to practice

Randy Wexler*, Terry Elton, Christopher A Taylor, Adam Pleister and David Feldman

Author Affiliations

The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-23

Published: 2 April 2009



High blood pressure is a significant health problem world-wide. Physician factors play a significant role in the suboptimal control of hypertension in the United States. We sought to better understand primary care physician's opinions regarding use of hypertension guidelines, patient and physician related barriers to treatment and physician treatment decision making in the management of hypertension as part of a first step in developing research tools and interventions designed to address these issues.


An IRB approved survey pertaining to physician opinion regarding the treatment of hypertension. Items consisted of questions regarding: 1) knowledge of hypertension treatment guidelines; 2) barriers to hypertension control (physician vs. patient); and 3) self-estimation of physician treatment of hypertension. Descriptive Statistics were used to describe results.


All physicians were board certified in family or general internal medicine (n = 28). Practices were located in urban (n = 12), suburban (n = 14) and inner city locations (n = 1). All physicians felt they did a good job of treating hypertension. Most physicians felt the biggest barrier to hypertension control was patient non-compliance. Half of physicians would fail to intensify treatment for hypertension when blood pressure was above recommended levels for all disease states studied (essential hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and renal disease).


Physician ability to assess personal performance in the treatment of hypertension and physician opinion that patient noncompliance is the greatest barrier to optimal hypertension control is contradictory to reported practice behavior. Optimal blood pressure control requires increased physician understanding on the evaluation and management of blood pressure. These data provide crucial formative data to enhance the content validity of physician education efforts currently underway to improve the treatment of blood pressure in the primary care setting.