Education Program Spurs Blacks to Take Blood Pressure Meds

Studies had found blacks twice as likely to skip medicines, compared to whites

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 12, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A patient education program that included encouragement and occasional gifts improved medication adherence -- taking medicines consistently and correctly -- among black Americans with high blood pressure, a new study found.

"African-Americans have been shown in some studies to be nearly twice as likely to not take their medicines when compared to Caucasians," study lead author Dr. Olugbenga Ogedegbe, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said in an American Heart Association news release.

The study included 252 black patients whose medication adherence was measured with electronic monitors installed on the caps of blood pressure pill bottles.

Those who received standard high blood pressure information, bi-monthly phone calls reminding them of positive life experiences, and six unexpected gifts by mail (including an umbrella and duffle bag) took their medication 43 percent of the time over 12 months. Patients who just received a workbook on hypertension (high blood pressure) with no additional intervention took their medication 36 percent of the time.

The findings were to be presented Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008, in New Orleans.

"This is good news. We have a very cheap intervention that helps patients improve adherence," Ogedegbe said. "The key question here is, 'How do we integrate this into daily practice?' "

"The whole idea is to reduce the amount of negativity patients have in terms of their health. If you are depressed, you are much less likely to take your medicine," Ogedegbe explained. "This study attacked it from two ways by reducing the rate of depressed feelings and helping patients affirm their own positive feelings. When people receive unexpected good news or gifts, it tends to induce positive feelings, and it is shown to carry over into other areas of life."

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about high blood pressure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 11, 2008

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