Background: Cardiovascular disease in individuals with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder is highly prevalent and often poorly managed. Individuals with bipolar disorder face significant medication adherence barriers, especially when they are prescribed multiple medications for other health conditions including hypertension. Poor adherence puts them at a disproportionate risk for poor health outcomes. As such, there is a need for effective interventions to improve hypertension medication adherence, particularly in patients that struggle with adherence due to mental health comorbidity.
Methods: This 5-year project uses a 2-stage randomized controlled trial design to evaluate a brief, practical adherence intervention delivered via interactive text messaging (iTAB-CV) along with self-monitoring of medication taking, mood, and home blood pressure (N = 100) compared to self-monitoring alone (N = 100). Prior to randomization, all participants will view an educational video that emphasizes the importance of medication for the treatment of hypertension and bipolar disorder. Those randomized to the texting intervention will receive daily text messages with predetermined content to address 11 salient domains as well as targeted customized messages for 2 months. This group will then be re-randomized to receive either a high (gradual taper from daily to weekly texts) or low booster (weekly texts) phase for an additional 2 months. All participants will be monitored for 52 weeks. The primary outcomes are systolic blood pressure and adherence to antihypertensive medication as determined by a self-reported questionnaire and validated with an automated pill-monitoring device. Secondary outcomes include adherence to bipolar disorder medications, psychiatric symptoms, health status, self-efficacy for medication-taking behavior, illness beliefs, medication attitudes, and habit strength.
Discussion: This study specifically targets blood pressure and mental health symptom control in people with bipolar and includes implementation elements in the study design intended to inform future scale-up. Promising pilot data and a theoretical model, which views sustained medication-taking behavior in the context of habit formation, suggests that this remotely delivered intervention may help advance care for this high-risk population and is amenable to both scale up and easy adaptation for other groups with poor medication adherence.
Trial registration: The study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov ( NCT04675593 ) on December 19, 2020.
Keywords: Antihypertensives; Bipolar disorder; Blood pressure; Habit formation; Hypertension; Medication adherence; Mobile intervention; Text messaging.
© 2022. The Author(s).