Randomized Trial of the Effect of Pharmacist Prescribing on Improving Blood Pressure in the Community: The Alberta Clinical Trial in Optimizing Hypertension (RxACTION)

Circulation. 2015 Jul 14;132(2):93-100. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.015464. Epub 2015 Jun 10.


Background: Hypertension control rates remain suboptimal. Pharmacists' scope of practice is evolving, and their position in the community may be ideal for improving hypertension care. We aimed to study the impact of pharmacist prescribing on blood pressure (BP) control in community-dwelling patients.

Methods and results: We designed a patient-level, randomized, controlled trial, enrolling adults with above-target BP (as defined by Canadian guidelines) through community pharmacies, hospitals, or primary care teams in 23 communities in Alberta. Intervention group patients received an assessment of BP and cardiovascular risk, education on hypertension, prescribing of antihypertensive medications, laboratory monitoring, and monthly follow-up visits for 6 months (all by their pharmacist). Control group patients received a wallet card for BP recording, written hypertension information, and usual care from their pharmacist and physician. Primary outcome was the change in systolic BP at 6 months. A total of 248 patients (mean age, 64 years; 49% male) were enrolled. Baseline mean±SD systolic/diastolic BP was 150±14/84±11 mm Hg. The intervention group had a mean±SE reduction in systolic BP at 6 months of 18.3±1.2 compared with 11.8±1.9 mm Hg in the control group, an adjusted difference of 6.6±1.9 mm Hg (P=0.0006). The adjusted odds of patients achieving BP targets was 2.32 (95% confidence interval, 1.17-4.15 in favor of the intervention).

Conclusions: Pharmacist prescribing for patients with hypertension resulted in a clinically important and statistically significant reduction in BP. Policy makers should consider an expanded role for pharmacists, including prescribing, to address the burden of hypertension.

Clinical trial registration: URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00878566.

Keywords: delivery of health care; hypertension; outcome assessment (health care); pharmacists.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharmacists* / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Role*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00878566