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Behavioral support from peers, staff lowers patients' blood pressure
Date:5/21/2012

ohnson Foundation, systolic pressure was reduced by 7.2 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) in the intervention group versus 0.8 mmHg in the control group a 6.4 mmHg greater reduction for the peer- and primary care staff-based intervention. The study also aimed to reduce overall risk of a heart attack or death from heart disease in the next four years. The intervention group did reduce their heart disease risk more than the control group, but not enough to achieve a significant difference in that outcome compared with the controls.

The study was conducted in patients who were already affected by multiple diseases. More than half of the participants had diabetes, nearly 1 in every 5 had suffered a heart attack or other coronary heart disease (CHD) event, and more than 2 in every 5 had depressive symptoms. Average age of the participants was 62.

Grateful peer coaches

For the peer support intervention, the team trained African-American patients from the same practices as the study subjects. This training program was conducted in collaboration with the American Heart Association. The peer coaches were aged 50 or older and had high blood pressure that was now well-controlled. The peer coaches spoke on the phone with study participants several times over the course of the study about the serious nature of high blood pressure, why taking medications is important and practical ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

"Interestingly, the lead peer coach was an 85-year-old former wedding planner," Dr. Turner said. "She was incredible. The best peer coaches were grateful to their doctors for helping them. They wanted to pay back their so-called debt to the doctor and thought this was a way to do it."

Three African-American staff members (a medical assistant, a licensed nurse and a chronic disease educator) were also trained to offer culturally appropriate slideshows developed by the team on topics such as where to get healthy food and
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Contact: Will Sansom
sansom@uthscsa.edu
210-567-2579
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert

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