Nurses' knowledge and skill of blood pressure measurement technique in a private hospital setting
Background: Nurses are responsible for the monitoring and assessment of blood pressure in the clinical setting. Increasing evidence has demonstrated that inaccurate measurement technique often leads to the misclassification of large numbers of individuals as hypertensive. The impact of untreated or poorly treated hypertension, due to misclassification of patients, is a major contributor to the overall burden of adult diseases in any population. Accurate measurement of blood pressure relies on knowledge and skill and is considered paramount in the management of cardiovascular risks. There seems to be limited information on the knowledge and skill of nurses in South Africa regarding the correct measurement of BP when using a sphygmomanometer and the auscultatory method. Given South Africa’s primary healthcare philosophy, and the significant role that nurses play in the prevention and treatment of hypertension, it is of importance to investigate nurses’ knowledge and skill of blood pressure measurement. Objectives: (i) to determine nurses’ skill and knowledge in measuring blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer and auscultation, and (ii) to determine if there is a correlation between nurses’ skill and knowledge of blood pressure measurement technique. Design and method: This study followed a quantitative, descriptive design with an observational checklist and survey method. In phase one, nurses’ skills of blood pressure measurement using a sphygmomanometer was determined by means of an observation checklist. In phase two, the researcher determined nurses’ knowledge of blood pressure measurement technique by using a standardised set of questions. Finally, the researcher investigated whether there was a correlation between nurses’ knowledge and their skill of blood pressure measurement technique in the mentioned setting. Results: Overall, the mean score for correctly completing the skills on the observational checklist was 87.7%. Nurses’ scored an average of 63.1% for knowledge of blood pressure measurement technique. The relationship between the assessment of skills and performance on the written questionnaire on knowledge was not significant (r=0,062, p=0,5). Conclusions: Although the average scores were 87.7% for skills and 63.1% for knowledge, this study identified deficts in both the knowledge and to a lesser degree, in the skill of nurses to understand and perform blood pressure measurement. Regular updates and carrying readily available documents on the standardized procedure for BP measurement techniques could support the training and correction of nurses’ knowledge and skill in the acute setting. Educational preparation that is more detailed may also greatly contribute to more understanding and knowledge of blood pressure for nurses involved in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular risk.
- Health Sciences