Introduction Blood pressure (BP) elevation in medical office settings in patients who are normotensive in nonmedical settings is an effect known as ‘white coat hypertension’. This phenomenon is thought to be due to situational anxiety caused by the experience of visiting a doctor and the anxiety-inducing nature of the medical office. Our study was designed to determine if carefully selected photographic art could counter the anxiety that causes white coat hypertension and lead to lower BP recordings in some patients.
Methods 117 adults, non-pregnant patients from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Family Medicine Resident Clinic participated in this study. After the triage nurse measured the BP, the patients were randomly placed in either an exam room with standard medical posters (control room) or in an exam room with photographic art (photo room). The BP was measured in the exam room. After the medical visit, the patients switched rooms and the BP was measured a third time. The patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire to identify room preference.
Results On average, the BP obtained in the control rooms was higher than that obtained in the photo rooms. There was a statistically significant difference between the mean arterial pressure, systolic BP and diastolic BP between the control room and the photo room.
Conclusions Landscape photographic art may have the beneficial effect of reducing BP in medical office examination rooms.
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