Beyond blood pressure: Teamwork that takes research a step further
Hypertension is the cause or a contributing factor in the deaths of 1,000 people every day in the United States. This extended high blood pressure is the most common chronic condition seen by primary care providers, yet it can be controlled.
A group of graduate students at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis formed teams to research if hypertensive people who monitor their blood pressure at home manage their health better than those who receive readings only in a clinic setting. The project represented the culmination of their scholarly work before graduation, as well as the opportunity to work as an interprofessional team, including future nurse practitioners, future physician assistants and future nurses.
“Having an open forum where everyone could discuss a topic fostered good collaboration and solutions,” said Ellaine Maala, a family nurse practitioner student. “Providers play a big role in the management of diseases, so if we can educate and give patients the opportunity to take part in their care, we get better outcomes.”
First, the team identified major reasons people do not monitor their blood pressure at home, such as improper measurement and lack of communication with a provider. Using the PICO model of research—problem, intervention, comparison, outcome to measure—the team of seven delved into the literature of articles published on the topic.
The education went beyond the condition. Team members faced challenges of different schedules, different perspectives and different opinions. The work forced them to embrace that diversity and identify their strengths when collaborating with others.
“My hope was that working together, the students would acknowledge and support the diverse thoughts and opinions coming from different team members and create a solution to a problem based on the best-quality evidence they could find,” said Amy Nichols, assistant clinical professor “I hope they apply what they learned to real-life situations in the future. Two brains are better than one. Five are better than two.”
“From what I have observed in the clinical settings, providing care to patients involves a multidisciplinary approach,” said Maying Va, a master’s-entry nursing student. “Being in a team pushed me to be open-minded, to listen, to appreciate one another’s perspectives and be thankful for each other’s’ contributions.”
This team concluded that people who monitor their blood pressure at home are more aware of and adhere to a healthier diet and exercise regimen than those who do not do self-checks. The process is most successful when the provider is vested in the care. The team encourages providers to educate patients on how to take an accurate reading.
Beyond the health knowledge, team members admit that working with students in other disciplines enabled them to review and interpret the data from multiple perspectives. The culmination of the research will be presented at the School of Nursing’s annual Academic Symposium on June 9. The daylong event showcases students’ diversity of interests and depth of research through projects, thesis presentations and doctoral dissertation overviews.