Implementation of Local Guidelines for Cost-Effective Management of Hypertension a Trial of the Firm System

John N. Aucott, Eleni Pelecanos, Robert Dombrowski, Susan M. Fuehrer, John Laich, David C. Aron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of an intensive intervention to implement guidelines for cost-effective management of hypertension on medication use and cost, blood pressure control, and other resource use. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort trial based on the Cleveland Veterans' Affairs Medical Center Firm System. SETTING: General internal medicine teaching clinic in a large university-affiliated Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. PARTICIPANTS: All patients seen in the intervention firm (n = 1273) and control firm (n = 884) clinics in the 3-month period following the introduction of the guidelines. INTERVENTIONS: The control firm received guidelines and usual education for the cost-effective outpatient management of hypertension. The intervention firm received guidelines plus intensive guideline-based education and supervision. MEASUREMEJVTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The use of guideline medications was greater in the intervention firm as compared with the control. The intervention firm initiated more hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), 17.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 14.8, 20.1) of patients versus 11.9% (CI 9.3, 14.8) in the control firm (p = .002). Atenolol was initiated in 7.2% (CI 5.6, 9.0) in intervention firm versus 4.7% (CI 3.2, 6.6) in the control (p = .03). In addition, the use of nonguideline medications was less in the intervention firm. The intervention firm initiated less long-acting nifedipine, 7.8% (CI 6.0, 9.8) versus 10.6% (CI 8.2. 13.5) in the control (p = .04). Blood pressure control demonstrated greater improvement in the intervention firm (p = .02). Use of guidelines was associated with decreased costs for antihypertensive medications in the intervention firm as a whole as compared with the control firm. There was no increased use in other measured resources in the intervention firm including the number of outpatient laboratory services obtained, clinic visits, emergency room visits, or hospitalizations. CONCLUSIONS: Intensive implementation of guideline-based education and supervision was associated with an increased use of guideline medications, decreased use of costly alternative agents, and no decrement in the measured outcomes of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood pressure on hypertension
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Guidelines
  • Physician behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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