Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 543–550 | Cite as

Failure to Intensify Antihypertensive Treatment by Primary Care Providers: A Cohort Study in Adults with Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension

  • Shari Danielle Bolen
  • T. Alafia Samuels
  • Hsin-Chieh Yeh
  • Spyridon S. Marinopoulos
  • Maura McGuire
  • Marcela Abuid
  • Frederick L. Brancati
Original Article



Although tight blood pressure control is crucial in reducing vascular complications of diabetes, primary care providers often fail to appropriately intensify antihypertensive medications.


To identify novel visit-based factors associated with intensification of antihypertensive medications in adults with diabetes.


Non-concurrent prospective cohort study.


A total of 254 patients with type 2 diabetes and hypertension enrolled in an academically affiliated managed care program. Over a 24-month interval (1999–2001), we identified 1,374 visits at which blood pressure was suboptimally controlled (systolic BP ≥ 140 mmHg or diastolic BP ≥ 90 mmHg).

Measurements and Main Results

Intensification of antihypertensive medications at each visit was the primary outcome. Primary care providers intensified antihypertensive treatment in only 176 (13%) of 1,374 visits at which blood pressure was elevated. As expected, higher mean systolic and mean diastolic blood pressures were important predictors of intensification. Treatment was also more likely to be intensified at visits that were “routine” odds ratio (OR) 2.08; 95% Confidence Interval [95% CI] 1.36–3.18), or that paired patients with their usual primary care provider (OR 1.84; 95% CI 1.11–3.06). In contrast, several factors were associated with failure to intensify treatment, including capillary glucose >150 mg/dL (OR 0.54; 95% CI 0.31–0.94) and the presence of coronary heart disease (OR 0.61; 95% CI 0.38–0.95). Co-management by a cardiologist accounted partly for this failure (OR 0.65; 95% CI 0.41–1.03).


Failure to appropriately intensify antihypertensive treatment is common in diabetes care. Clinical distractions and shortcomings in continuity and coordination of care are possible targets for improvement.


diabetes mellitus hypertension health services cohort study 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shari Danielle Bolen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  • T. Alafia Samuels
    • 4
  • Hsin-Chieh Yeh
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Spyridon S. Marinopoulos
    • 1
  • Maura McGuire
    • 1
  • Marcela Abuid
    • 5
  • Frederick L. Brancati
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical ResearchJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)WashingtonUSA
  5. 5.Department of MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts School of MedicineWorcesterUSA
  6. 6.Welch Center for Epidemiology and PreventionBaltimoreUSA

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