J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2012; 14:461–466.. ©2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Hypertension knowledge is an integral component of the chronic care model. A valid scale to assess hypertension knowledge and self-management skills is needed. The hypertension evaluation of lifestyle and management (HELM) scale was developed as part of a community-based study designed to improve self-management of hypertension. Participants included 404 veterans with hypertension. Literature review and an expert panel were used to identify required skills. Items were generated and pilot tested in the target population. Validity was assessed through comparisons of performance with education, health numeracy, print numeracy, patient activation and self-efficacy, and hypertension control. The HELM knowledge scale had 14 items across 3 domains: general hypertension knowledge, lifestyle and medication management, and measurement and treatment goals. Scores were positively associated with education (0.28, P<.0001), print health literacy (0.21, P<.001), health numeracy (0.17, P<.001), and patient activation (0.12, P=.015) but no association was found with diastolic or systolic blood pressure. The HELM knowledge scores increased following the educational intervention from baseline (mean, 8.7; standard deviation, 2.2) to 12-month follow-up (mean, 9.2, standard deviation, 2.2; P<.001). We conclude that the HELM provides a valid measure of the knowledge required for patients to take an active role in the chronic disease management of hypertension.