Adapting a clinical decision support system to improve identification of pediatric hypertension in a rural health system: Design of a pragmatic trial

Contemp Clin Trials. 2023 Sep:132:107293. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2023.107293. Epub 2023 Jul 16.


Background: Identifying hypertension (HTN) early is crucial in preventing and lowering the long-term risk of heart disease, yet HTN in children often goes undiagnosed. An electronic health record linked, web-based clinical decision support (CDS) called PedsBP can help address this care gap and has been previously shown to increase recognition of HTN by primary care clinicians.

Objectives: To adapt the PedsBP tool for use in a mostly rural health system and then to evaluate the effectiveness of PedsBP for repeat of hypertensive level blood pressure (BP) measurements and HTN recognition among youth 6-17 years of age in primary care settings, comparing low-intensity and high-intensity implementation approaches.

Methods and design: PedsBP was evaluated through a pragmatic, clinic-randomized trial. The tool was piloted in 2 primary care clinics and modified prior to the full trial. Forty community-based, primary care clinics (or clusters of clinics) were randomly allocated in a 1:1:1 ratio to usual care, low-intensity implementation (CDS only), or high-intensity implementation (CDS plus in-person training, monthly use reports, and ongoing communication between study staff and clinics). Accrual of eligible patients started on August 1, 2022 and will continue for 18 months. Primary outcomes include repeating hypertensive level BP measurements at office visits and clinical recognition of HTN. Secondary outcomes include lifestyle counseling, dietician referral, and BP at follow-up.

Conclusion: This report focuses on the design and feasibility of adapting and implementing PedsBP in a rural primary care setting. The trial and analysis are ongoing with main results expected in mid-2024.

Keywords: Adolescents; Blood pressure; Children; Decision support; Hypertension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / diagnosis
  • Hypertension* / therapy
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Rural Health