Community health outreach workers improve hypertension treatment outcomes through follow-up visits in rural South Africa
Recent research in the rural Eastern Cape province of South Africa examined 1885 inhabitants previously screened and determined to have hypertension or diabetes or be at high risk of either disease. Follow-up visits were undertaken by community health outreach workers (CHOWs) to improve disease detection, referral, and treatment.
The results showed that hypertension was more prevalent than diabetes: 1702 individuals were known hypertensives on treatment, compared to 341 known diabetics receiving medication. The median number of CHOW follow-up visits per person was 5 and 6 for hypertensive and diabetic patients, respectively.
In the first follow-up visit, 75% of 739 hypertensive patients referred to clinics had confirmed visits compared to 82% of the 186 diabetics also referred to clinics. High blood glucose levels were indicated in about 60% of diabetic patients in the initial follow-up, resulting in increased frequency of CHOW visits until stabilization of blood glucose levels occurred. By the final follow-up visit to hypertensive patients, the average systolic blood pressure had significantly lowered, all diagnosed and at high risk for hypertension were receiving medication, and fewer participants were categorized in the higher stages of the disease. For detailed information about this research, click here.