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Interactive Spaced Education to Optimize Hypertension Management

18 Years
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Trial Information

Interactive Spaced Education to Optimize Hypertension Management

Anticipated Impacts on Veterans' Healthcare: This study aims to demonstrate that online
interactive spaced education (ISE) can improve providers' care of patients with
hypertension. ISE is the type of intervention that can be deployed across the VHA with
content tailored to meet specific needs and can be implemented as a tool to improve
performance measures and clinical outcomes.

Project Background/Rationale: ISE is a novel educational methodology based on the "spacing
effect", the psychological finding that repeated presentations of educational material over
spaced intervals increase learning efficiency and improve knowledge retention. ISE is
delivered using periodic emails that contain clinical case scenarios and multiple-choice
questions. We recently completed a randomized trial involving 95 VISN 1 primary care
providers (PCPs) which demonstrated that an ISE intervention can significantly improve
clinician's practice patterns. Those clinicians randomized to the ISE intervention on
prostate cancer screening demonstrated a 26% relative reduction in inappropriate screening.

Project Objectives: Lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients unequivocally decreases
the incidence of stroke and cardiovascular events and is highly cost-effective. The majority
of patients with blood pressure above the treatment target do not have their
anti-hypertensive medications appropriately intensified at clinician visits. A reduced
frequency of treatment intensification is alternatively termed 'clinical inertia'. Our
preliminary results show that clinicians' knowledge of hypertension management guidelines is
limited, and few clinicians report following the guidelines consistently. We propose to
conduct a randomized controlled trial involving PCPs in VISN 1 to determine whether ISE can
(1) increase knowledge of the appropriate treatment of hypertensive patients, (2) reduce
clinical inertia in hypertension management, and (3) improve the blood pressure control in
hypertensive patients.

Project Methods: One hundred six VISN 1 primary care practitioners (physicians, nurse
practitioners, and physician assistants) will be recruited via email to participate in the
study. Participants will be randomized to one of two cohorts: (1) the intervention cohort
will receive ISE over year 1, and (2) the control cohort will receive no intervention and
will represent the "standard of education" on hypertension management. The ISE intervention
will consist of an email every 4 days containing 1 multiple-choice questions based on a
curriculum derived from clinical practice guidelines on appropriate hypertension management.
Providers will submit answers to the questions online and immediately receive the correct
answer and an explanation of the pertinent clinical issues. Using a new adaptive
methodology, the spacing and content of the educational intervention will be individualized
for each clinician based on their performance. The ISE intervention will be completed in
9-11 months. Hypertension knowledge will be assessed by a post-test at the end of year 1.
Providers' clinical inertia and the blood pressures of their patients will be assessed over
2 years: initial changes attributable to ISE will be identified in year 1, while the
retention of these changes will be monitored in year 2. Drawing on the interdisciplinary
expertise of our investigator team, the study is positioned to enrich national debates about
how best to improve the ways in which clinicians can meet their lifelong learning needs.

Inclusion Criteria:

- VA VISN 1 primary care clinicians (MD, NP, PA) who have at least a 50% (4/8 time)
clinical appointment.

Exclusion Criteria:

- VA VISN 1 primary care clinicians (MD, NP, PA) who do not have at least a 50% (4/8
time) clinical appointment.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Health Services Research

Outcome Measure:

Cross-cohort comparison of the average time needed to normalize patients' blood pressure

Outcome Time Frame:

Months 1-24

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

B. Price Kerfoot, MD EdM

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Campus


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:

EDU 08-422



Start Date:

February 2010

Completion Date:

September 2013

Related Keywords:

  • Hypertension
  • Educational Technology
  • Hypertension
  • Education, Professional
  • Hypertension



VA Boston Healthcare System, Brockton Campus Brockton, Massachusetts  02301