A comparison of blood pressure in community pharmacies with ambulatory, home and general practitioner office readings: systematic review and meta-analysis

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Blood pressure (BP) readings are traditionally taken in a clinic setting, with treatment recommendations based on these measurements. The clinical interpretation of BP readings taken in community pharmacies is currently unclear. This study aimed to systematically review all literature comparing community pharmacy BP (CPBP) readings with ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM), home BP monitoring and general practitioner clinic readings.


Studies were included if they compared CPBP with at least one other measurement modality used for the diagnosis or management of hypertension. Mean CPBP readings were compared with other measurement modalities and summarized using random-effects meta-analyses. The primary outcome was to compare CPBP with gold standard ABPM readings.


Searches generated 3815 studies of which eight were included in the meta-analyses. The mean systolic CPBP-daytime ABPM difference was small [+1.6 mmHg (95% confidence interval −1.2 to 4.3) three studies, n = 319]. CPBP was significantly higher than 24-h ABPM [+7.8 mmHg (95% confidence interval 1.5–14.1) three studies n = 429]. Comparisons with general practitioner clinic readings (six studies, n = 2100) were inconclusive with significant heterogeneity between studies. CPBP and home BP monitoring readings (five studies, n = 1848) were nonsignificantly different. Diastolic comparisons mirrored systolic comparisons in all but the CPBP-daytime ABPM comparison, where CPBP was significantly higher.


Current evidence around the clinical interpretation of CPBP is inconclusive. Although this review suggests that adopting the 135/85 mmHg threshold for hypertension might be reasonable and potentially result in a higher sensitivity for detecting patients with truly raised BP in pharmacies, the impact of this lower threshold on increased referrals to general practice clinics must be considered.

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