Approach to hypertension among primary care physicians in the West Region of Cameroon: substantial room for improvement

Jean Jacques N. Noubiap, Ahmadou M. Jingi, Sandra Wandji Veigne, Arnold Ewane Onana, Edvine Wawo Yonta, Samuel Kingue


Objective: This study was conducted to assess the knowledge and approach of primary care physician (PCPs) towards the management of hypertension in Cameroon.
Methods: In 2012 we surveyed 77 PCPs among the 111 working in the West region of Cameroon. We used a standardized questionnaire assessing practices regarding the detection, evaluation and treatment of hypertension, and source of information about updates on hypertension.
Results: Participants had a mean duration of practice of 10.1 (SD 7.6) years, and received an average of 10.5 (SD 5.8) patients daily. Most of the PCPs (80.5%, n=62) measured blood pressure (BP) for all adult patients in consultation, however, only 63.6% (n=49) used correct BP thresholds to diagnose hypertension. Sixty-seven PCPs (87.0%) ordered a minimal work-up for each newly diagnosed hypertensive patient, but only the workup offered by 8 (10.4%) PCPs was adequate. Regarding treatment, the most commonly prescribed medications as monotherapy were loop diuretics (49.3%). Bitherapy mostly included the combination of a diuretic with other drug classes. Most of PCPs used incorrect target BP, with a general tendency of using higher target levels. PCPs received updates on hypertension management mostly through drug companies representatives (53.2%, n=41). Up to 97.4% were willing to receive continuing medical training on hypertension.
Conclusion: PCPs’ knowledge and management of hypertension is poor in this region of Cameroon. Our data point to a need for continually updating the teaching curricula of medical schools with regard to the management of hypertension, and physicians in the field should receive continuing medical education.