BACKGROUND - Inadequate blood pressure control is a persistent gap in quality care.
OBJECTIVE - To evaluate provider and patient interventions to improve blood pressure control.
DESIGN - Cluster randomized, controlled trial.
SETTING - 2 hospital-based and 8 community-based clinics in the Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.
PATIENTS - 1341 veterans with essential hypertension cared for by 182 providers. Eligible patients had 2 or more blood pressure measurements greater than 140/90 mm Hg in a 6-month period and were taking a single antihypertensive agent.
INTERVENTION - Providers who cared for eligible patients were randomly assigned to receive an e-mail with a Web-based link to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) guidelines (provider education); provider education and a patient-specific hypertension computerized alert (provider education and alert); or provider education, hypertension alert, and patient education, in which patients were sent a letter advocating drug adherence, lifestyle modification, and conversations with providers (patient education).
MEASUREMENTS - Proportion of patients with a systolic blood pressure less than 140 mm Hg at 6 months; intensification of antihypertensive medication.
RESULTS - Mean baseline blood pressure was 157/83 mm Hg with no differences between groups (P = 0.105). Six-month follow-up data were available for 975 patients (73%). Patients of providers who were randomly assigned to the patient education group had better blood pressure control (138/75 mm Hg) than those in the provider education and alert or provider education alone groups (146/76 mm Hg and 145/78 mm Hg, respectively). More patients in the patient education group had a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or less compared with those in the provider education or provider education and alert groups (adjusted relative risk for the patient education group compared with the provider education alone group, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.06 to 1.62]; P = 0.012).
LIMITATIONS - Follow-up blood pressure measurements were missing for 27% of study patients. The study could not detect a mechanism by which patient education improved blood pressure control.
CONCLUSIONS - A multifactorial intervention including patient education improved blood pressure control compared with provider education alone.