In sub-Saharan Africa, the estimated burden of hypertension is increasing. Innovative strategies are needed
to ensure that people can regularly check their blood pressure. This qualitative study aimed to understand
participants’ knowledge of hypertension, explore the acceptability of self-screening blood pressure testing at
private drug shops, and understand motivations and barriers for attending referral services after a high blood
The study took place between October 2013 and January 2014 in Mwanza region, Tanzania. In-depth
interviews were conducted with eight service providers and 14 service users. Two focus group discussions
were conducted with 24 community members.
Private drug shop attendants liked the opportunity to offer blood pressure testing, and their clients
appreciated the self-testing of their blood pressure. Some service users, whose screening suggested a raised
blood pressure, attended health facilities for further follow-up, driven by their expectations of good services,
health concerns and a desire for treatment. Conversely, a perceived lack of severity of the condition were
barriers to attendance at the health facility, along with the long waiting times and drug stock-outs experienced
at the facilities.
Private drug shops provide an opportunity to acts as a gateway for more people to assess their health.
However, self-screening alone cannot ensure those in need of treatment receive it. A broader structural
intervention is required to remove the barriers preventing people from attending health services and receiving
adequate medical care.