Improving Hypertension Control: A Physician Intervention
Nancy R. Kressin PhD
Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Bedford, MA
Funding Period: April 2001 - March 2003
Hypertension affects nearly 50 million Americans, and is more frequent among African Americans than whites. Despite the importance of treating hypertension, studies have persistently shown that most patients with established hypertension have poorly controlled blood pressure, and that African Americans are disproportionately represented among this group.
In order to improve physician management of hypertension and to improve patients’ compliance with prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, we will conduct a three-armed facility based intervention trial. We will implement a computer-based reminder system identifying uncontrolled hypertensive patients for physicians and a proven intervention strategy teaching physicians to advise and counsel patients about hypertension control. We expect that improving hypertension care in general will improve the care provided to both white and African American patients, but as a secondary aim of this study we will examine whether such improvements will also decrease racial disparities in the three domains described below.
In one facility we will implement only the reminder system, in a second facility we will implement both the reminder system and the patient-centered counseling education program, and in the third (control group) we will only provide information about hypertension management through a grand rounds presentation. To assess outcomes in each site, we will assess the baseline (pre-intervention) blood pressure readings for hypertensive patients, and patient compliance with prescribed medications. Six and twelve months subsequent to the interventions, we will reassess each of these outcomes. Through exit interviews with a random sample of eligible patients, we will also assess physicians’ provision of advice and counseling about antihypertensive medications as well as self-reported medication compliance. In a small subsample of patients at each site, we will also audiotape interactions between patients and providers, to qualitatively examine patterns of communication.
Preliminary results from the pilot phase of this work suggest some interesting trends in racial differences regarding attitudes about antihypertensive medication and clinicians' counseling of patients regarding such therapies. For example, we found that African Americans (AA's) were more likely to report that they forgot their medications 2 or more days (10% AA's vs. 3% whites), and that they intentionally chose not to take medications (6% AA's vs. 0% whites). African American patients more often reported that their physician did not discuss their blood pressure (17% vs. 10%), but they also more often reported that their physicians did ask about problems taking blood pressure medications (54% vs. 35%), past efforts to get better at taking blood pressure medications (52% vs. 36%), barriers to taking such medications (34% vs. 21%), and strategies for improving medication adherence (45% vs. 33%). African Americans were less likely to say they agreed with their physicians regarding goals for taking blood pressure medications (53% vs. 63%), and physicians were less likely to tell African Americans to make a new appointment for blood pressure care (45% vs. 71%).
Information gleaned from this study will help identify whether improving communication between patients and physicians will improve rates of hypertension control and medication adherence.
DRA: Health Systems
DRE: Treatment - Observational
Keywords: Behavior (provider), Translation
MeSH Terms: none