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Open Access Research article

Determinants of racial/ethnic differences in blood pressure management among hypertensive patients

LeRoi S Hicks123*, Shimon Shaykevich1, David W Bates1 and John Z Ayanian12

Author Affiliations

1 Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

2 Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

3 Brigham and Women's-Faulkner Hospitalist Program, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2005, 5:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-5-16

Published: 22 June 2005



Prior literature has shown that racial/ethnic minorities with hypertension may receive less aggressive treatment for their high blood pressure. However, to date there are few data available regarding the confounders of racial/ethnic disparities in the intensity of hypertension treatment.


We reviewed the medical records of 1,205 patients who had a minimum of two hypertension-related outpatient visits to 12 general internal medicine clinics during 7/1/01-6/30/02. Using logistic regression, we determined the odds of having therapy intensified by patient race/ethnicity after adjustment for clinical characteristics.


Blacks (81.9%) and Whites (80.3%) were more likely than Latinos (71.5%) to have therapy intensified (P = 0.03). After adjustment for racial differences in the number of outpatient visits and presence of diabetes, there were no racial differences in rates of intensification.


We found that racial/ethnic differences in therapy intensification were largely accounted for by differences in frequency of clinic visits and in the prevalence of diabetes. Given the higher rates of diabetes and hypertension related mortality among Hispanics in the U.S., future interventions to reduce disparities in cardiovascular outcomes should increase physician awareness of the need to intensify drug therapy more agressively in patients without waiting for multiple clinic visits, and should remind providers to treat hypertension more aggressively among diabetic patients.