Interpreting and acting upon home blood pressure reading: A qualitative study

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Abstract

Background: Recent guidelines recognize the importance of home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) as an adjunct to clinical measurements. We explored how people who have purchased and use a home blood pressure (BP) monitor make sense of, and act upon, readings and how they communicate with their doctor about the practice of home monitoring. Methods. A qualitative study was designed and participants were purposively recruited from several areas in England, UK. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with 18 users of home BP monitors. The transcribed data were thematically analysed. Results: Interpretation of home BP readings is complex, and is often characterised by uncertainty. People seek to assess value normality using 'rules of thumb', and often aim to identify the potential causes of the readings. This is done by drawing on lay models of BP function and by contextualising the readings to personal circumstances. Based on the perceived causes of the problematic readings, actions are initiated, mostly relating to changes in daily routines. Contacting the doctor was more likely when the problematic readings persisted and could not be easily explained, or when participants did not succeed in regulating their BP through their other interventions. Most users had notified their doctor of the practice of home monitoring, but medical involvement varied, with some participants reporting disinterest or reservations by doctors. Conclusions: Involvement from doctors can help people overcome difficulties and resolve uncertainties around the interpretation of home readings, and ensure that the rules of thumb are appropriate. Home monitoring can be used to strengthen the patient-clinician relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalBMC Family Practice
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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