Introduction: Treated, but uncontrolled hypertension is a worldwide challenge. Exploring patient's perspective in different cultures and contexts could contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of poor blood pressure (BP) control. This study aimed in investigating patients' knowledge and attitudes towards BP management in order to identify possible barriers in achieving effective control.
Methods: A mixed-methods study- using both quantitative and qualitative research methodology- was conducted by twelve general practitioners- working in rural areas- in five different prefectures in Greece. A 42-item, pre-tested questionnaire was completed by the hypertensive patients that visited the practices and were included among the 20 first patients for 20 consecutive working days. The included participants were patients: a) with diagnosed hypertension who received BP-lowering medication, b) aged over 18 years old, c) in physical and mental condition that allowed the conduction of the interview, d) with adequate understanding of the Greek language, e) who provided signed informed consent. The open-ended questions used to identify the patient-related barriers in hypertension control were analyzed using thematic content analysis.
Results: A total of 613 hypertensive patients were recruited (response rate 91%); mean age was 71.5 years old (SD 9.4, range: 34-100) and 39.5% (242) were male. Uncontrolled BP was found in 41.3% (253), out of which 67.6% (171) considered their BP controlled, 18.6% (47) uncontrolled, while 13.8% (35) were unaware of their status. Women were more likely to achieve BP control (OR 1.44, 95% CI 1.04, 2.00). As many as 287 (46.8%) patients knew the optimal values for BP. The identified barriers in hypertension control were grouped in the six themes: 1. Knowledge gaps, 2. Intolerance of adverse events, 3. Negligence, 4. Unmet individual preferences, 5. Financial barriers and 6. Overtreatment of hypertension.
Conclusion: Physicians should be aware of the possible disconnection between their patient's perceived and actual BP control, with often overestimation of BP control rates and the lack of knowledge on targeted BP level. They should bear in mind that covering their patients' knowledge gaps is essential in empowering them to get more actively involved in the management of their chronic condition. Simultaneously, physicians should aim in eliciting each patient's attitudes, concerns about adverse events, individual preferences, as well as possible financial barriers and negligence in an effort to actually see the antihypertensive treatment "thought their patients’ eyes" and eliminate possible barriers in medication adherence. The provision of patient-centered care remains the gold pathway to eliminate patient-related barriers and achieve higher levels of BP control.