Pediatrician Communication About High Blood Pressure in Children With Overweight/Obesity During Well-Child Visits

Nora Bismar, Sarah E. Barlow, Tammy M. Brady, Christy B. Turer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Despite recognition that hypertension is associated with childhood obesity, data suggest that high blood pressure (BP) is infrequently diagnosed in children. This study sought to examine provider communication with overweight school-age children regarding BP measurements that were high at well-child visits. Methods: Cross-sectional mixed-methods analysis of audio-recorded communication from well-child visits with overweight 6–12-year-olds. Data from the subset of children with elevated BPs were used for this study. Three BP measures obtained at the audio-recorded visit were averaged, paired with historical BPs stored in the health record, and compared to contemporary/Fourth-Report thresholds to determine if children had elevated/hypertensive BPs only at the audio-recorded visit or met hypertension-diagnostic criteria (hypertension-level BP ≥3 separate visits). Two reviewers used visit transcripts to categorize communication about BP as “absent,” “unclear,” or “direct.” Provider use of a billing diagnosis for elevated BP/hypertension in visits with direct-BP-communication was explored. Results: In 36 of 126 (29%) visit-audio-recordings, children had elevated/hypertensive BPs. Thirty-three of the 36 eligible (92%) had intelligible audio-recordings. Of these, 9 (25%) were overweight and 24 (75%) had obesity. Seventeen (52%) had elevated BPs, and 16 (48%) hypertensive BPs. Ten (30%) met criteria for hypertension diagnosis. BP communication was absent in 20 visits (61%), unclear in 8 (24%), and direct in 5 visits (15%). Billing diagnoses for elevated BP/hypertension were entered at 4 of 5 (80%) visits with direct-BP communication. Conclusions: Most overweight children with elevated BPs did not receive communication that BP is high at well-child visits. Relevant billing diagnoses may indicate direct-BP communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-783
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Volume20
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • elevated blood pressure
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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