Study finds ‘white coat effect’ on blood pressure may be real

England – A patient’s blood pressure reading may be significantly higher than normal when taken by a doctor instead of a nurse, according to a new study from the University of Exeter Medical School.

Researchers examined the so-called “white coat effect,” or patients having a higher blood pressure in the presence of doctors. In a systematic review of 15 studies, blood pressure readings were found to be significantly higher when measured by a doctor rather than a nurse.

As a result, researchers said doctors should continue to check blood pressure, but not in cases in which treatment decisions will be based on the reading. Otherwise, the effect demonstrated in the study could push a patient above the threshold for high blood pressure, resulting in unnecessary medication.

The study was published in the April issue of the British Journal of General Practice.