Awareness of hypertension guidelines in primary care: Results of a regionwide survey in Italy

C. Cuspidi, I. Michev, S. Mean, B. Severgnini, C. Sala, M. Salerno, C. Valerio, G. Bertazzoli, G. Leonetti, F. Magrini, A. Zanchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unsatisfactory blood pressure (BP) control so often described in treated hypertensive populations is also explained by insufficient physicians' awareness of experts' guidelines. We assessed awareness of current recommendations about hypertension management in a general practice setting, using the World Health Organization/International Society of Hypertension (WHO/ISH) 1999 guidelines as reference. In a regionwide survey, a total of 5133 physicians (three-quarters of all active general practitioners in Lombardy, a region of north-western Italy) were contacted by letter and received a multiple choice 10-item questionnaire. Data on physicians' demographic characteristics, information on hypertension prevalence and their perception of BP control among their patients were also requested in an additional form. The number of answers in agreement with WHO/ISH guidelines was used as an awareness measure. This was considered adequate if correct answers to six out of 10 questions, including an appropriate definition of hypertension, were provided. Of the 1256 returned questionnaires (a 24.5% response rate), 1162 were suitable for analysis. The mean score of correct answers was 5.3 points and only 20.1% of the study population correctly answered at least six of the questions (including that on the definition of hypertension in the elderly). Guidelines awareness was negatively related to increase in physicians' age and duration of clinical practice and by the male gender. Finally, the physicians reported a high rate of achieved BP control, and those who were considered to have achieved highest rates (> 75%) of control in their patients had a lower rate of adequate knowledge than those who reported less-successful therapeutic results (18 vs 25%, P <0.01), suggesting that they ignored or disregarded the goal BP recommended by the guidelines. This large regional survey shows that a sufficient degree of guidelines awareness is present in a minority of primary-care physicians in the Italian region of Lombardy. Therefore, further efforts are required to intensify information strategies for improving professional education, training and practice organization aimed at achieving therapeutic goals. Physicians with longer duration of clinical practice represent a particularly relevant target group for these interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-547
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Human Hypertension
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Mail survey
  • Primary care
  • WHO/ISH guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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