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How informed general practitioners manage mild hypertension: a survey of readers of drug bulletins in 7 countries


Objective: To determine whether general practitioners (GP) who are readers of independent drug bulletins can be used as an international epidemiological observatory of the criteria adopted by “well informed” doctors in various countries in the management of mild hypertension.

Design: Questionnaire study of GPs' diagnostic criteria for mild hypertension, routine investigation and management of patients with this diagnosis.

Participants: 206 GPs readers of independent drug bulletins in 7 countries, comprising 95 known systematic readers of a local bulletin and 111 randomly selected regular subscribers.

Main outcome measures: Response rate to the questionaire. Diagnostic criteria, routine investigations, and treatment used for patients with mild hypertension.

Results: The study required two months for planning and implementation. Four countries out of eleven had a response rate ≤50% and were excluded; the frequency of responses from other countries was 69%. The average diastolic blood pressure (DBP) considered diagnostic of mild hypertension range from 94 mm Hg (lower threshold) to 106 (upper threshold). A minority (17%) of GPs routinely request the minimum recommended laboratory tests to assess patients. GPs routinely advise non-drug measures before starting a drug. Most would not start drug treatment in patients without other risk factors and a DBP below 100 mmHg. The top first choice drugs were diuretics and β-adrenoceptor blockers. Half of the doctors were able to quote some published guide to the management of mild hypertension, and 18% cited a relevant trial. Attitudes in diagnosing and treating mild hypertension differed widely between GPs and countries.

Conclusions: GP readers of drug bulletins can be used quickly and inexpensively to assess the extent to which recommended diagnostic and therapeutic practices are accepted by “well informed” doctors. The results suggest that attitudes in managing mild hypertension vary widely among GPs and countries and differ remarkably from the recommendations of published guidelines.

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Author information

Correspondence to G. Tognoni.

Additional information

The organisers in the participating countries were: M. Bogaert, Folia Pharmacotherapeutica (Belgium) · B. Vrhovac, Pharmaca and Bilten O Lijekovima (Croatia) · D. Broclain, La revue Prescrire (France) · P. K. Sarkar, Drug Disease Doctor (India) · P. Hardjasaputra, Farmakon; B. Santoso, S. S. Danu, Lembran Obat dan Pengobatan (Indonesia) · M. Miselli, G. F. Nasi, Informazioni sui Farmaci; D. Coen, Ricerca e Pratica; L. Bozzini, Dialogo sui Farmaci (Italy) · P. K. M. Lunde (Norway) D. Lee, Medicamentos y Terapeutica (Panama) · J. M. Recalde, Boletin terapeutico Andaluz (Spain) · T. N. C. Aturaliya, Drug Information Bulletin (Sri Lanka) · A. Herxheimer, Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (United Kingdom)

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Avanzini, F., Tognoni, G., Colombo, F. et al. How informed general practitioners manage mild hypertension: a survey of readers of drug bulletins in 7 countries. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 49, 445–450 (1996).

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Key words

  • Practioners
  • hypertension
  • general practice
  • disease management
  • international differences