Purpose: Little is known about the impact of pay-for-performance incentives on health care disparities. We examined ethnic disparities in the management of hypertension among patients with and without cardiovascular comorbidities after the implementation of a major pay-for-performance incentive scheme in UK primary care.
Methods: We undertook a population-based, cross-sectional survey of medication prescriptions and blood pressure control among patients with hypertension using electronic medical records from 16 family practices in southwest London.
Results: Black patients with hypertension were significantly less likely to achieve an established treatment target for blood pressure control than white or South Asian patients (adjusted odds ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.74-0.99). The prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidities was higher among South Asian patients with hypertension than among their white or black counterparts (41.3% vs 28.5% vs 28.8%). The presence of 2 or more cardiovascular comorbidities was associated with significantly improved blood pressure control among white patients but not among black or South Asian patients (mean systolic blood pressure, -9.4 mm Hg, -0.6 mm Hg, and -1.8 mm Hg, respectively). South Asian patients with poorly controlled hypertension were prescribed fewer antihypertensive medications than their black or white peers (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.46-0.96).
Conclusions: Ethnic disparities in the management of hypertension have persisted in the United Kingdom despite major investment in quality improvement initiatives, including pay for performance. These disparities are particularly marked among patients with multiple cardiovascular conditions.