Patient use of blood pressure self-screening facilities in general practice waiting rooms: a qualitative study in the UK.
Tompson AC., Grant S., Greenfield SM., McManus RJ., Fleming S., Heneghan CJ., Hobbs FR., Ward AM.
BACKGROUND: Blood pressure (BP) self-screening, whereby members of the public have access to BP monitoring equipment outside of healthcare consultations, may increase the detection and treatment of hypertension. Currently in the UK such opportunities are largely confined to GP waiting rooms. AIM: To investigate the reasons why people do or do not use BP self-screening facilities. DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional, qualitative study in Oxfordshire, UK. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews with members of the general public recruited using posters in GP surgeries and community locations were recorded, transcribed, and coded thematically. RESULTS: Of the 30 interviewees, 20% were hypertensive and almost half had self-screened. Those with no history of elevated readings had limited concern over their BP: self-screening filled the time waiting for their appointment or was done to help their doctor. Patients with hypertension self-screened to avoid the feelings they associated with 'white coat syndrome' and to introduce more control into the measurement process. Barriers to self-screening included a lack of awareness, uncertainty about technique, and worries over measuring BP in a public place. An unanticipated finding was that several interviewees preferred monitoring their BP in the waiting room than at home. CONCLUSION: BP self-screening appeared acceptable to service users. Further promotion and education could increase awareness among non-users of the need for BP screening, the existence of self-screening facilities, and its ease of use. Waiting room monitors could provide an alternative for patients with hypertension who are unwilling or unable to monitor at home.