The study looked at data on 100 middle-aged men and women from low-income immigrant communities in Los Angeles who had their blood pressure checked at a health fair. Some were assigned to a community nurse who held office hours at a church, provided patients with in-person counseling on lifestyle modification, and helped them make doctors appointments. Others were assigned to research assistants who aided them solely by phone in scheduling appointments with physicians. One-quarter of the participants had not been previously diagnosed with hypertension.
The researchers found that while patients in both groups showed improvement in systolic blood pressure, those in the phone-assisted group had twice the improvement (an average 14±15 mm drop) of those in the nurse group (an average 7±15 mm drop). While it is unclear what caused the more pronounced short-term improvement in the phone-assisted group, researchers suspect these participants saw a physician sooner and had more adjustments to their medications within the four-month study period.
Assisting health fair participants with making an appointment to see a doctor led to a significant improvement in blood pressure.
Health fairs can play a role in identifying people with treatable chronic conditions in low-income immigrant communities and can provide an opportunity to connect people with medical care.
Arshiya Baig of the University of Chicago, who led the study while in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA; Carol M. Mangione and Jeanne M. Miranda of UCLA; and Alice L. Sorrell-Thompson of Haven Health in Los Angeles
The study appears in the current online edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Funding for the study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program and the Older Americans Independence Center at UCLA funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging.
Source: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Health Sciences