Accuracy of monitors used for blood pressure checks in English retail pharmacies: a cross-sectional observational study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford


Free blood pressure (BP) checks offered by community pharmacies offer a potentially useful opportunity to diagnose and/or manage hypertension, but the accuracy of the sphygmomanometers in use is currently unknown.

To assess the accuracy of validated automatic BP monitors used for BP checks in a UK retail pharmacy chain.

Design and Setting
52 pharmacies from one chain were visited in a range of locations (inner city, suburban, rural) in central England.

Monitor accuracy was compared to a calibrated reference device (Omron PA-350), at 50 mmHg intervals across the range 0-300 mmHg (static pressure test), with a difference from the reference monitor of +/-3 mmHg at any interval considered a failure. The results were analysed by usage rates and length of time in service.

Eight (13%) monitors failed (i.e. were more than 3mmHg from reference), all underestimating BP. Monitor failure rate from the reference monitor of +/- 3 mmHg at any testing interval varied by length of time in use (2/38, 5% before 18 months vs. 4/14, 29% after 18 months; p=0.038) and to some extent but non-significantly by usage rates (4/22, 18% in monitors used more than once daily vs. 2/33, 6% in those used less frequently; p=0.204).

BP monitors within a pharmacy setting fail at similar rates to those in general practice. Annual calibration checks for blood pressure monitors are needed, even for new monitors, since these data indicate declining performance from 18 months onwards.

Bibliographic note

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e309-e314
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number646
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • blood pressure monitors , calibration , community pharmacy services , hypertension , primary health care