The prevalence of essential hypertension has continued to increase worldwide, and its consequences have remained a growing concern. A number of sociodemographic and clinical variables may however serve as key determinants of the extent to which it is associated with psychiatric comorbidity as well as impairment of quality of life. The aim of this study, therefore, was to determine the sociodemographic and clinical factors that may influence the level of psychiatric comorbidity and quality of life associated with persons with essential hypertension attending the general outpatient clinic of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH). Following ethical approval and informed consent from the participants, 360 subjects making up the study group were recruited based on the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria. A pilot study was carried out. Subjects were further administered with the study’s instruments including the socio-demographic/clinical questionnaire, GHQ-12, WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WHOCIDI) and the WHOQOL-Bref. The data were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 16 statistical package. Confidence interval was set at 95%, while p-value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. The study found a prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity of 64.4% among the hypertensives. Among the study group, there was no significant relationship between the presence of psychiatric comorbidity and age class (p = 0.350), gender (p = 0.22), level of education (p = 043), income class (p = 0.81) and occupation. Persons who were married were significantly more likely to have a psychiatric comorbidity (p = 0.001). There was also no significant relationships between age of onset of illness (p = 0.60), duration of illness (p = 0.73), duration of treatment (p = 0.82) and self-stigma (p = 0.15). The findings of this study support the impression that essential hypertension is a chronic debilitating illness, associated with psychiatric comorbidity and reduced quality of life, that is largely significantly influenced by a number of sociodemographic and clinical factors. The results support the call that the management of patients with essential hypertension should include attention to the mental health status of the sufferers.
Part of the book: Update on Essential Hypertension