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Blood pressure campaign changing behaviour

Stroke Foundation media release 29 April 2014

Blood pressure campaign changing behaviour

Four out of ten people who took part in the Stroke Foundation’s annual blood pressure awareness campaign say they are taking action to control their blood pressure as a result. That is the startling finding of a follow up survey of participants who had their blood pressure tested in the October 2013 event.

“Normally it’s quite difficult for most health promotion campaigns to produce behaviour change,” said Stroke Foundation Health Promotion Manager Julia Rout on publishing the campaign evaluation report. “Improvements in people’s understanding or knowledge are common, but getting people to take action to improve their health is the Holy Grail of health promotion. Even if we can’t be certain everyone is really making changes this survey certainly shows that the messages about blood pressure and stroke are getting through to a high proportion of participants in our campaign.”

Nearly 20,000 shoppers had their blood pressure tested on 5 October 2013 at 168 different sites, mostly New World or PAK’nSAVE supermarkets. The tests were carried out by St John volunteers, assisted by Rotary. Wellington Free Ambulance volunteers also took part in the Wellington region for the first time.

A random sample of 367 shoppers who had their blood pressure tested were contacted nine weeks later and quizzed about the campaign. They were asked “Are you taking any action as a result of your blood pressure reading, or the information you received?” Forty per cent said they were.

The number of people who could recall their last blood pressure reading, or at least whether it was high or low, also increased for the third year in succession, rising from just 13 per cent in 2011 to 28 per cent in 2013.

“It’s really encouraging to see that the campaign is making an impact,” continued Julia Rout. “The aim is to encourage people to check their blood pressure regularly, know what their reading is, and understand the relationship between high blood pressure and stroke. More than 8 out of 10 participants said they understood that high blood pressure was a major risk factor for stroke. Even if we are cautious about what people say about their behaviour, taken together with the findings on recall of last test it still shows just how worthwhile this activity is.”

Invitations are being sent to all Foodstuffs supermarkets this week to participate in the 2014 campaign scheduled for Saturday 4 October.


Notes to editors

The Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, in partnership with St John, Wellington Free Ambulance, Rotary NZ and Foodstuffs, held its fifth national blood pressure awareness campaign on Saturday 5 October, 2013.

A full list of the results from each of the 168 venues is attached.

The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness amongst shoppers at Foodstuffs supermarkets (New World and PAK’nSAVE), and the general public visiting non-supermarket sites, about blood pressure, its relationship to stroke, and the importance of having regular blood pressure checks. Information packs and free blood pressure checks were offered to all participants between 10am and 2pm on the day. Data was collected to help inform the Stroke Foundation’s future activities.

Key results
• 40% of respondents in a follow-up survey indicated they were taking action as a result of their blood pressure reading or due to information received on campaign day.
• Over 80% of respondents in the same follow-up survey were able to identify ways to reduce their risk of stroke.
• More people had some idea of what their last blood pressure reading was when compared to previous years (28% recall in 2013 vs 20% in 2012 and 13% in 2011)
• 168 blood pressure testing sites participated on campaign day
• At least 20,000 shoppers visited the test sites
• The proportion of participants with blood pressure falling in the ‘normal’ and ‘raised’ ranges was similar to previous years.
• 13% of participants that took part on campaign were referred to a GP due to high readings
• 20% of participants indicated they were on blood pressure medication

Blood pressure readings
• Raised readings were those with 140 mm Hg systolic and/or 90 mm Hg diastolic; 8,102 participants (47%) had raised blood pressure readings, similar to 2012 (46.9%).
• 691 participants (4%) fell into the severe hypertension range (180 systolic and/or 100 diastolic).
• The average reading was 134/82, exactly the same as 2012.The highest systolic reading recorded was 231/133; the highest diastolic reading was 218/180.

Referrals to a GP or nurse
• 2,268 participants (13%) were referred to a GP or nurse as a result of a high blood pressure reading (to ensure proper medical assessment of apparently high readings).

Recall of information on campaign day
• 28% of participants indicated they could either recall or had some knowledge (e.g. high, normal, approximate) of what their last blood pressure reading was. This compares to 20% in 2012 and just 13% in 2011.
• Recall of when a participant’s blood pressure was last measured was similar to previous years (between 63 – 66% could say how long ago they last had a test).
• Over 80% of participants had a strong awareness of blood pressure being the major risk factor for stroke.

• 59.5% of participants were female; 39.5% were male
• 32% were aged between 20-49
• 66% were aged 50 and above

• European 77.8%
• Maori 9.0%
• Pacifica 3.9%
• Asian 4.2%
• Indian 2.9%
• Other 1.8%

A full evaluation report on the 2013 campaign can be downloaded from

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