Background: Care remains suboptimal for many patients with hypertension.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of quality improvement (QI) strategies in lowering blood pressure.
Data sources: MEDLINE, Cochrane databases, and article bibliographies were searched for this study.
Study selection: Trials, controlled before-after studies, and interrupted time series evaluating QI interventions targeting hypertension control and reporting blood pressure outcomes were studied.
Data extraction: Two reviewers abstracted data and classified QI strategies into categories: provider education, provider reminders, facilitated relay of clinical information, patient education, self-management, patient reminders, audit and feedback, team change, or financial incentives were extracted.
Data synthesis: Forty-four articles reporting 57 comparisons underwent quantitative analysis. Patients in the intervention groups experienced median reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) that were 4.5 mm Hg (interquartile range [IQR]: 1.5 to 11.0) and 2.1 mm Hg (IQR: -0.2 to 5.0) greater than observed for control patients. Median increases in the percentage of individuals achieving target goals for SBP and DBP were 16.2% (IQR: 10.3 to 32.2) and 6.0% (IQR: 1.5 to 17.5). Interventions that included team change as a QI strategy were associated with the largest reductions in blood pressure outcomes. All team change studies included assignment of some responsibilities to a health professional other than the patient's physician.
Limitations: Not all QI strategies have been assessed equally, which limits the power to compare differences in effects between strategies.
Conclusion: QI strategies are associated with improved hypertension control. A focus on hypertension by someone in addition to the patient's physician was associated with substantial improvement. Future research should examine the contributions of individual QI strategies and their relative costs.