Watching patient stories on DVDs improves blood pressure control among blacks

Research Activities, March 2012, No. 379

Storytelling, which is emerging as a powerful tool for health promotion in vulnerable populations, is a novel approach being used to help blacks make the lifestyle changes necessary to lower blood pressure. A new study found that black patients who watched story segments on DVDs of others sharing their stories about high blood pressure helped them make substantial improvements in their own blood pressure. A total of 299 blacks with hypertension were selected from an inner-city clinic in the South. Of these, 147 were assigned to the storytelling intervention, while the other 152 were assigned to the usual-care group.

Those in the intervention group received three DVDs; the first one they watched in the clinic, and the other two were sent to their home. Blood pressure was measured initially, and again at 3, 6, and 9 months later. Each DVD contained various patients with hypertension, who discussed how they lived with high blood pressure, and offered tips on how to adhere to medications, talk to the doctor, avoid hidden salt, and increase exercise. Participants randomized into the usual-care group received a DVD containing local news health messages unrelated to hypertension.

Most of the participants were women (71.4 percent) with an average age of 53.7 years. Patients with uncontrolled hypertension assigned to the intervention group showed an 11-mm Hg greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than the usual- care group and meaningful reduction in diastolic blood pressure by 3 months. Blood pressure subsequently increased for both groups, but the relative advantage of the storytelling intervention persisted at 6 and 9 months. Patients in the intervention group reported watching at least 1 video segment from each of the 3 DVDs for a total of 87.5 minutes viewing time. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS19353).

See "Culturally appropriate storytelling to improve blood pressure: A randomized trial," by Thomas K. Houston, M.D., M.P.H., Jeroan J. Allison, M.D., M.Sc., Marc Sussman, M.H.A., and others in the Annals of Internal Medicine 154(2), pp. 77-84, 2011. 

Page last reviewed March 2012
Internet Citation: Watching patient stories on DVDs improves blood pressure control among blacks: Research Activities, March 2012, No. 379. March 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.