Breakthroughs, the newsletter of the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office

March 2024 Newsletter

Reach Out 2: Randomized Clinical Trial of Emergency Department-Initiated Hypertension Mobile Health Intervention Connecting Multiple Health Systems 

Sponsor: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Sponsored Research

PI: Lesli Skolarus, MD, MS, vice chair of faculty development and professor of Neurology and of Medical Social Sciences in the Division of Implementation Science 

Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Black Americans have the highest prevalence of hypertension and the lowest rates of blood pressure (BP) control of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., contributing to cardiovascular disease disparities. Low-income Americans are also disproportionally burdened by hypertension. To achieve health equity, new approaches to hypertension management leveraging safety-net healthcare systems to reach underserved populations are needed.   

One approach to addressing the hypertension epidemic is to identify and treat people undiagnosed, untreated, or with undertreated hypertension - people who have fallen through the cracks in the healthcare system. We did this in Reach Out 1 (R01MD011516), a mobile health (mHealth) 8-arm factorial trial of hypertensive patients recruited from a safety-net emergency department.  Overall, systolic BP declined by 9.2 mmHg (95 percent CI -12.2 to - 6.3) after six months, without differences across treatment arms.   

Reach Out 1 successfully enrolled a hypertensive, medically underserved population into a mHealth intervention. Despite a very large reduction in BP overall, the efficacy of the Reach Out mHealth intervention is uncertain, given the lack of a control group. Reach Out 2 proposes to test the most promising components of Reach Out 1 in a randomized open, blinded- endpoint (PROBE) controlled trial. Reach Out 2, continues our work with the same safety-net ED and Federally Qualified Health Centers. In Reach Out 2, we will compare usual care, to six months of prompted self-monitored blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring with tailored feedback and facilitated primary care appointment and transportation. The usual care group will receive instructions to follow up with a primary care provider after ED discharge. After 6 months, the intervention participants will enter an extended treatment period of long-term SMBP monitoring.   

To contextualize our findings, we will use our chronic disease agent-based simulation model to estimate the reduction in myocardial infarction, stroke, and dementia if Reach Out 2 were to be implemented in safety-net EDs across the US. The overarching goal of our proposal is to determine whether a low-tech mHealth intervention will reduce BP more than usual care among patients recruited from a safety-net ED and to understand the potential national impact of such an intervention. Because safety-net EDs are anchor institutions that care for large populations of medically underserved hypertensive people, mHealth strategies initiated here have tremendous potential to reduce cardiovascular inequities. To reach this potential, evidence- based interventions to reduce BP must be identified (aim 1), long-term engagement evaluated (aim 2), and their impact understood (aim 3). 

Learn more about this project.