British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 21 Issue 4 (November 1982), Pages 239-358

Psychological group treatment of essential hypertension in general practice (pages 295-302)

One hundred and seven obese patients with essential hypertension from eight general practices received one of the following psychological group therapy procedures: (1) modification of nutritional patterns; (2) modification of nutritional patterns plus self‐monitoring of blood pressure and training in social competence; (3) modification of nutritional patterns plus Jacobson's relaxation training; (4) information about the causes and consequences of high blood pressure. An approximately equal number of patients served as a waiting‐control group. All patients had received pharmacological treatment for at least a year. Each procedure was administered by a psychologist with groups of up to 15 patients in 12 weekly sessions. The blood pressure values measured before and after intervention showed a clear reduction; this fall is greatest when the initial values were high. Even when the magnitude of the initial values was statistically controlled there was a distinctly greater reduction in blood pressure in the treatment groups than in the waiting‐control group. No differential effect between the various therapy procedures could be demonstrated, however. The changes in general health behaviour of the treatment groups was statistically confirmed. In addition, there was a distinct reduction in body weight. Medication compliance also improved in the treatment groups. Since group procedures were accepted both by the doctors and the patients involved, they should be included to a great extent in the basic care of hypertensive patients in the future.

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