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Approximately 1.3 million adolescents have high blood pressure in the US, yet many medical providers may not feel comfortable addressing it. While lifestyle modifications should be encouraged as a treatment, understanding how social determinant of health (SDOH) factors impact the utilization of recommendations is critical.
To examine medical providers’ comfort with diagnosing, treating, and providing nutrition and physical activity recommendations to hypertensive adolescents and their knowledge of their patients’ social needs.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
An online survey (n = 110) of medical providers (MD, DO, PA, NP) who treat adolescents in North Carolina was conducted. Participants were recruited through the North Carolina Pediatric Society listserv, Federally Qualified Health Centers, three academic medical centers, and three major healthcare systems. Prior to administration, the survey was content, and face validated.
Descriptive statistics summarized demographic characteristics of the medical providers and their patient population. Two composite scores were calculated for provider comfort level and knowledge of SDOH measures and used in multivariate analyses with race, years of practice, and credentials.
Most providers expressed limited comfort with the treatment of hypertension (67%). Only 44% and 49% of providers were completely comfortable with providing nutrition recommendations and physical activity recommendations to hypertensive adolescents, respectively. Medical providers (21%) said SDOH always impact their messaging to adolescent patients. Most medical providers reported rarely having knowledge of their patients’ SDOH factors like access to healthy food (64%) or caregiver's educational status (81%).
Results suggest that both provider comfort and knowledge of SDOH need to be improved to better meet adolescent patients’ needs and to improve the likelihood that nutrition and physical recommendations are followed. Medical providers that consider SDOH to tailor their messages to adolescents and provide community resources may promote greater health equity by addressing low-income families’ unmet needs.
© 2022 Published by Elsevier Inc.