Study objective: To compare physician adherence to guidelines from the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure for patients younger than 65 years of age with those aged 65 years and older, and to analyze whether factor groupings (subsets of criteria used to determine adherence) were predictive of blood pressure control.
Design: Retrospective medical record review.
Setting: Five university-affiliated family medicine and internal medicine outpatient clinics.
Patients: One hundred seventy-nine patients (age range 21-85 yrs) with uncontrolled hypertension: 105 patients were younger than 65 years (nonsenior), and 74 patients were 65 years or older (senior).
Measurements and main results: Data abstracted from each patient's medical record were used to evaluate adherence to 17 process-of-care criteria, identified to assess physician adherence to the guidelines. A computer algorithm generated scores for each criterion as well as an overall adherence score. The relationship between the adherence score and blood pressure control was then examined. Separate factor analyses were conducted to ascertain differences in the way that the criteria were grouped. Factor scores were calculated for each patient, and the scores were evaluated in the context of blood pressure control. Guideline adherence scores were significantly higher for nonsenior patients than for senior patients (59.3% vs 56.1%, p=0.024). Blood pressure control rate was also higher, although not significantly, in nonseniors versus seniors (68.6% vs 56.8%, p=0.063). No factors in the senior group were significantly associated with blood pressure control, but one was significantly correlated in the nonsenior group (p<0.0001). It included diuretic therapy, adjusting a drug when a patient's blood pressure was uncontrolled, documentation of uncontrolled blood pressure in the medical record at the visit, documentation of the correct blood pressure goal, documentation of cardiovascular risk factors, and measurement of urine albumin level.
Conclusion: Overall physician adherence to blood pressure guidelines was significantly higher for the nonsenior group than for the senior group. Similarly, control of blood pressure was better in the nonsenior group. However, no significant relationship between overall adherence scores and blood pressure control was found in either group. In nonseniors, one factor grouping was significantly correlated with blood pressure control. Future studies should evaluate the process-of-care criteria to determine if and how they are related to blood pressure control in senior patients.