An exploratory study on the quality of patient screening and counseling for hypertension management in Tanzania

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Background The global burden of hypertension, currently estimated at 1 billion, is a leading Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) in Sub Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, the reported prevalence of hypertension is 25%. Inherent limitations of the healthcare system to control hypertension include inadequate provider knowledge, system capacity, medication access, and patient awareness, all of which hinder effective screening and disease management. To assess the quality of hypertension screening and patient counseling, we conducted a study in an ambulatory setting in Tanzania. Methods Observations of patient screening were conducted on 69 adult patients during routine outpatient care and screening camps. In addition, 33 healthcare providers participated in a pre-post knowledge assessment after observing instructional training videos. Results Patient observations indicated that blood pressure (BP) measurement was explained to 65% of patients, and 77% of the measurements were made with mercury sphygmomanometers. For several aspects of BP measurement, nurses performed better than doctors: patient’s arm supported on a flat surface (doctors, 58% vs nurses 67%, p<0.05), and patient’s back was supported (doctors, 50% vs nurses 88%, p<0.01). Among those diagnosed with hypertension, 7% were prescribed medications, 14% were advised on reduced salt during cooking, 29% on reduced salt consumption, 21% on reduced consumption of sodium rich foods, 21% on reducing caloric intake, 21% on increasing physical activity, and 43% were informed about follow up appointments. Provider knowledge assessments showed critical gaps in consequences of hypertension, 1st line medicines, and awareness of guidelines at baseline. Following the instructional videos there were improvements in some aspects: diagnostic criteria for hypertension (pre 45% vs post 91%, p<0.001) and counseling for controlling hypertension (pre 30% vs post 58%, p<0.01). Conclusion Enhancing knowledge and performance competencies of health providers at the primary care level is a critical prerequisite for effective hypertension management in low resource settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0227439
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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