Background: Hypertension is a leading risk factor for death in sub-Saharan Africa. Quality treatment is often not available nor affordable. We assessed the effect of a voluntary health insurance program, including quality improvement of healthcare facilities, on blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive adults in rural Nigeria.
Methods: We compared changes in outcomes from baseline (2009) to midline (2011) and endline (2013) between non-pregnant hypertensive adults in the insurance program area (PA) and a control area (CA), through household surveys. The primary outcome was the difference between the PA and CA in change in BP, using difference-in-differences analysis.
Results: Of 1500 eligible households, 1450 (96.7%) participated, including 559 (20.8%) hypertensive individuals, of which 332 (59.4%) had follow-up data. Insurance coverage increased from 0% at baseline to 41.8% at endline in the PA and remained under 1% in the CA. The PA showed a 4.97 mm Hg (95% CI: -0.76 to +10.71 mm Hg) greater decrease in systolic BP and a 1.81 mm Hg (-1.06 to +4.68 mm Hg) greater decrease in diastolic BP from baseline to endline compared to the CA. Respondents with stage 2 hypertension showed an 11.43 mm Hg (95% CI: 1.62 to 21.23 mm Hg) greater reduction in systolic BP and 3.15 mm Hg (-1.22 to +7.53 mm Hg) greater reduction in diastolic BP in the PA compared to the CA. Attrition did not affect the results.
Conclusion: Access to improved quality healthcare through an insurance program in rural Nigeria was associated with a significant longer-term reduction in systolic BP in subjects with moderate or severe hypertension.
Keywords: Access to care; Health insurance; Hypertension; Nigeria; Quality of care; Sub-Saharan Africa.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.. All rights reserved.