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Keywords:

  • community intervention;
  • cultural sensitivity;
  • ethnic minority;
  • hypertension;
  • stroke

Abstract

Incidence rates for stroke and hypertension are higher in black ethnic groups of African descent in the USA and UK than in white groups, suggesting a need for targeted intervention. We conduct a narrative review of published research evidence on community interventions to manage hypertension among black ethnic groups, and explore the concept of cultural sensitivity in these interventions. Data sources comprised computer-aided searches of published studies over the years 1981 to March 2006, on community strategies for improving hypertension control targeting black groups, and further references from these articles. Twenty-seven relevant studies were identified. Health education was associated with improvements in knowledge about hypertension, while education combined with individualised support for patients to self-manage hypertension, including goal setting and monitoring to enhance patient self-management of hypertension, and family support in managing hypertension were associated with reductions in blood pressure levels and improvements in blood pressure control. Collaboration with black communities, using local or minority ethnic staff, conducting preliminary research with target groups to investigate perceptions and canvass ideas for the intervention design were common methods assumed to achieve cultural sensitivity. Studies, however, provided insufficient robust evidence of the effectiveness of these strategies in terms of quantifiable outcomes, although this criterion is contested, with social justice arguments being offered instead. Implicit assumptions about homogeneity and shared interests within the ‘community’, and representation of ‘community’ views have implications for the effectiveness of interventions. These findings highlight areas for the future development of interventions to reduce hypertension rates in black groups, and factors that need to be robustly investigated and explicitly addressed in intervention design.