Research Project

Take Control: A Community Research Project to Control High Blood Pressure

Though hypertension is a relatively easy condition to control, it remains a major risk factor for a number of leading causes of disease and death. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the most common diagnoses made by U.S. primary doctors, affecting 76 million U.S. adults. While treatment is effective, current clinic-based approaches for hypertension care are not as effective as they might be, with more than half of the 76 million affected being uncontrolled. Uncontrolled hypertension is especially common in Arkansas. The percentage of U.S. adults with uncontrolled hypertension is higher in Arkansas than in the nation (29% vs. 16%) and even higher among African Americans in the state than whites (34% vs. 28%). The University of Arkansas Prevention Research Center plans to decrease rates of uncontrolled hypertension in a rural, under-served, predominately minority community, and identify cost-effective ways to better control hypertension.

Researchers are recruiting and training community health workers to deliver a stepped-care, community case management intervention. This program is designed to reduce uncontrolled hypertension in a rural, predominately African American community in Arkansas and minimize cost. The community health worker will provide lay education about blood pressure, help identify barriers to controlling it, and link participants to needed community services, such as insurance enrollment, medical services, and/or prescription assistance. The program includes three steps of support to help participants get their blood pressure under control. Each step is designed to be more intense than the previous step. Participants who still have uncontrolled hypertension after step 1, for instance, will be moved into step 2 and so forth. To test its effectiveness, researchers will randomly assign participants to the intervention group and a non-intervention group (usual care) and compare the outcomes.

A cost-effectiveness analysis will be conducted by comparing public health system costs and outcomes for participants in both the intervention and non-intervention groups. To inform this analysis, researchers plan to collect data from participants regarding doctor visits for hypertension management and hypertension medication, frequency of refills, and adherence. Costs associated with the resources used in the intervention to improve health outcomes will be calculated for each participant.

If proven effective in lowering uncontrolled hypertension rates and treatment costs, stepped-care, community case management intervention may be a hypertension control public health model to be replicated, not only across Arkansas, but the nation.

Participant Testimonials

“People might think them videos don’t help, but I watched them and they helped. My blood pressure was out of whack when I started, but not it’s a whole lot better.”

“The program really helped my blood pressure. It got so good the doctor took me off all my blood pressure medicine.”

“This program has been the best thing that could have happened to me…I feel like I’m in control!”

Head Advisor Testimonial

“Every time I went in to check his blood pressure, it was elevated. He told me he’d been taking the same medication for 20 years. I stressed that he needed to become an active part of his treatment team. He believed he was ‘one of those people who just had high blood pressure readings all the time.’ I talked to him about how there are many different types of medication, that the medicine he was taking was not working and he should talk to his doctor about changing the prescription. After several visits of telling him the same thing and encouraging him to talk to his doctor, he finally did. At his last visit, he was happy to inform me that he had been taking a new medication for three days and was already seeing better readings than he’d ever seen since being diagnosed with high blood pressure. I congratulated him on becoming an active part of his treatment team and encouraged him to take his blood pressure readings in to his follow up appointment.”

“I just had a young man thank me for continuing to encourage him to see the doctor about changing his meds. He never wanted his BP checked because he said it was always high but today he let me check it. It was 118/79. He changed his meds WEDNESDAY. He was so happy that I had not given up and kept trying to get him to get a visit with his doctor and talk to him about the fact that his meds were not working for him. He had a huge smile on his face when he left and just kept thanking me. I feel so awesome right now!”

Community Committee Meetings

July 10, 2017: Diabetes and Obesity

October 18, 2017 : Depression and Mental Health

February 5, 2018: Substance Abuse 

October 15, 2018: Mental Health

April 15, 2019: Up in Smoke

Quarterly Newsletter

February 2017

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March 2019