A randomized trial to improve patient-centered care and hypertension control in underserved primary care patients

J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Nov;26(11):1297-304. doi: 10.1007/s11606-011-1794-6. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


Background: African Americans and persons with low socioeconomic status (SES) are disproportionately affected by hypertension and receive less patient-centered care than less vulnerable patient populations. Moreover, continuing medical education (CME) and patient-activation interventions have infrequently been directed to improve the processes of care for these populations.

Objective: To compare the effectiveness of patient-centered interventions targeting patients and physicians with the effectiveness of minimal interventions for underserved groups.

Design: Randomized controlled trial conducted from January 2002 through August 2005, with patient follow-up at 3 and 12 months, in 14 urban, community-based practices in Baltimore, Maryland.

Participants: Forty-one primary care physicians and 279 hypertension patients.

Interventions: Physician communication skills training and patient coaching by community health workers.

Main measures: Physician communication behaviors; patient ratings of physicians' participatory decision-making (PDM), patient involvement in care (PIC), reported adherence to medications; systolic and diastolic blood pressure (BP) and BP control.

Key results: Visits of trained versus control group physicians demonstrated more positive communication change scores from baseline (-0.52 vs. -0.82, p = 0.04). At 12 months, the patient+physician intensive group compared to the minimal intervention group showed significantly greater improvements in patient report of physicians' PDM (β = +6.20 vs. -5.24, p = 0.03) and PIC dimensions related to doctor facilitation (β = +0.22 vs. -0.17, p = 0.03) and information exchange (β = +0.32 vs. -0.22, p = 0.005). Improvements in patient adherence and BP control did not differ across groups for the overall patient sample. However, among patients with uncontrolled hypertension at baseline, non-significant reductions in systolic BP were observed among patients in all intervention groups-the patient+physician intensive (-13.2 mmHg), physician intensive/patient minimal (-10.6 mmHg), and the patient intensive/physician minimal (-16.8 mmHg), compared to the patient+physician minimal group (-2.0 mmHg).

Conclusion: Interventions that enhance physicians' communication skills and activate patients to participate in their care positively affect patient-centered communication, patient perceptions of engagement in care, and may improve systolic BP among urban African-American and low SES patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards*
  • Patient-Centered Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Improvement / standards
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Class
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Antihypertensive Agents