Interventions used to improve control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Mar 17;(3):CD005182. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005182.pub4.


Background: Patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) in the community frequently fail to meet treatment goals - a condition labelled as "uncontrolled" hypertension. The optimal way to organize and deliver care to hypertensive patients has not been clearly identified.

Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of interventions to improve control of blood pressure in patients with hypertension. To evaluate the effectiveness of reminders on improving the follow-up of patients with hypertension.

Search strategy: All-language search of all articles (any year) in the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (CCTR) and Medline; and Embase from January 1980.

Selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of patients with hypertension that evaluated the following interventions: (1) self-monitoring (2) educational interventions directed to the patient (3) educational interventions directed to the health professional (4) health professional (nurse or pharmacist) led care (5) organisational interventions that aimed to improve the delivery of care (6) appointment reminder systemsOutcomes assessed were: (1) mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure (2) control of blood pressure (3) proportion of patients followed up at clinic

Data collection and analysis: Two authors extracted data independently and in duplicate and assessed each study according to the criteria outlined by the Cochrane Handbook.

Main results: 72 RCTs met our inclusion criteria. The methodological quality of included studies varied. An organized system of regular review allied to vigorous antihypertensive drug therapy was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure (weighted mean difference (WMD) -8.0 mmHg, 95% CI: -8.8 to -7.2 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (WMD -4.3 mmHg, 95% CI: -4.7 to -3.9 mmHg) for three strata of entry blood pressure, and all-cause mortality at five years follow-up (6.4% versus 7.8%, difference 1.4%) in a single large RCT- the Hypertension Detection and Follow-Up study. Other interventions had variable effects. Self-monitoring was associated with moderate net reduction in systolic blood pressure (WMD -2.5 mmHg, 95% CI: -3.7 to -1.3 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (WMD -1.8 mmHg, 95% CI: -2.4 to -1.2 mmHg). RCTs of educational interventions directed at patients or health professionals were heterogeneous but appeared unlikely to be associated with large net reductions in blood pressure by themselves. Nurse or pharmacist led care may be a promising way forward, with the majority of RCTs being associated with improved blood pressure control and mean SBP and DBP but these interventions require further evaluation. Appointment reminder systems also require further evaluation due to heterogeneity and small trial numbers, but the majority of trials increased the proportion of individuals who attended for follow-up (odds ratio 0.41, 95% CI 0.32 to 0.51) and in two small trials also led to improved blood pressure control, odds ratio favouring intervention 0.54 (95% CI 0.41 to 0.73).

Authors' conclusions: Family practices and community-based clinics need to have an organized system of regular follow-up and review of their hypertensive patients. Antihypertensive drug therapy should be implemented by means of a vigorous stepped care approach when patients do not reach target blood pressure levels. Self-monitoring and appointment reminders may be useful adjuncts to the above strategies to improve blood pressure control but require further evaluation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory
  • Blood Pressure* / drug effects
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Self Care


  • Antihypertensive Agents