Patients' and physicians' assessment of risks associated with hypertension and benefits from treatment

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Abstract

Background

Perceptions of effects of a medical regimen may affect patients' adherence to therapy.

Objective

To assess concordance between patients' and physicians' estimations of the risks of hypertension and benefits of treatment during a regular follow-up appointment.

Design

A population-based Swedish multicentre study. Patients were included consecutively from a randomized selection of centres (55 primary health care centres and 11 clinics of internal medicine).

Methods

A questionnaire was given to 1013 patients undergoing their individually prescribed antihypertensive therapy and 212 physicians who were caring for these patients.

Results

Without therapy, patients perceived the risks of cardiovascular complications to be higher than did their physicians. Patients were not aware that an increasing number of risk factors has an impact on the risk of complications. Patients furthermore rated the benefits of treatment higher than did their physicians (P< 0.001). Of the patients, 14% had blood pressures<140/90 mmHg. Most of the patients (61%) were not aware of their target blood pressure. However, when the target pressure was communicated to patients by the physician, patients remembered it accurately. The patients were generally not willing to trade even minor side effects from antihypertensive therapy for benefits of treatment.

Conclusions

There was a high degree of inconsistency between patients' and physicians' estimations of risks of hypertension. Patients estimated the effects of treatment to be more beneficial than did their physicians.

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