How do family physicians measure blood pressure in routine clinical practice? National survey of Canadian family physicians.
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OBJECTIVE: To describe the techniques currently used by family physicians in Canada to measure blood pressure (BP) for screening for, diagnosing, and treating hypertension. DESIGN: A Web-based cross-sectional survey distributed by e-mail. SETTING: Stratified random sample of family physicians in Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Family physician members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada with valid e-mail addresses. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Physicians' self-reported routine methods for recording BP in their practices to screen for, diagnose, and manage hypertension. RESULTS: A total of 774 valid responses were received, for a response rate of 16.2%. Respondents were similar to nonrespondents except for underrepresentation of male physicians. Of 769 respondents, 417 (54.2%) indicated that they used manual office BP measurement with a mercury or aneroid device and stethoscope as the routine method to screen patients for high BP, while 42.9% (330 of 769) reported using automated office BP (AOBP) measurement. The method most frequently used to make a diagnosis of hypertension was AOBP measurement (31.1%, 240 of 771), followed by home BP measurement (22.4%, 173 of 771) and manual office BP measurement (21.4%, 165 of 771). Ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) was used for diagnosis by 14.4% (111 of 771) of respondents. The most frequently reported method for ongoing management was home BP monitoring (68.7%, 528 of 769), followed by manual office BP measurement (63.6%, 489 of 769) and AOBP measurement (59.2%, 455 of 769). More than three-quarters (77.8%, 598 of 769) of respondents indicated that ABPM was readily available for their patients. CONCLUSION: Canadian family physicians exhibit overall high use of electronic devices for BP measurement, However, more efforts are needed to encourage practitioners to follow current Canadian guidelines, which advocate the use of AOBP measurement for hypertension screening, ABPM and home BP measurement for making a diagnosis, and both AOBP and home BP monitoring for ongoing management.
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