Efficacy of an mHealth App to Support Patients' Self-Management of Hypertension: Randomized Controlled Trial

Publication Name

Journal of medical Internet research


BACKGROUND: Hypertension is a significant global disease burden. Mobile health (mHealth) offers a promising means to provide patients with hypertension with easy access to health care services. Yet, its efficacy needs to be validated, especially in lower-income areas with a high-salt diet. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the efficacy of an mHealth app-based intervention in supporting patients' self-management of hypertension. METHODS: A 2-arm randomized controlled trial was conducted among 297 patients with hypertension at the General Hospital of Ningxia Medical University, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China. Participants selected via convenience sampling were randomly allocated into intervention and control groups. Intervention group participants were trained and asked to use an mHealth app named Blood Pressure Assistant for 6 months. They could use the app to record and upload vital signs, access educational materials, and receive self-management reminders and feedback from health care providers based on the analysis of the uploaded data. Control group participants received usual care. Blood pressure (BP) and 2 questionnaire surveys about hypertension knowledge and lifestyle behavior were used to assess all participants at baseline and 6 months. Data analysis was performed with SPSS software using 2-tailed t tests and a chi-square test. RESULTS: There were no significant differences in baseline characteristics and medication use between the 2 groups (all P>.05). After 6 months, although both groups show a significant pre-post improvement (P<.001 each), the BP control rate (ie, the proportion of patients with a systolic BP of <140 mm Hg and diastolic BP of <90 mm Hg) in the intervention group was better than that in the control group (100/111, 90.1% vs 75/115, 65.2%; P<.001). The mean systolic and diastolic BP were significantly reduced by 25.83 (SD 8.99) and 14.28 (SD 3.74) mm Hg in the intervention group (P<.001) and by 21.83 (SD 6.86) and 8.87 (SD 4.22) mm Hg in the control group (P<.001), respectively. The differences in systolic and diastolic BP between the 2 groups were significant (P<.001 and P=.01, respectively). Hypertension knowledge significantly improved only in the intervention group in both pre-post and intergroup comparisons (both P<.001). However, only intragroup improvement was observed for lifestyle behaviors in the intervention group (P<.001), including medication adherence (P<.001), healthy diet (P=.02), low salt intake (P<.001), and physical exercises (P=.02), and no significant difference was observed in the control group or on intergroup comparisons. CONCLUSIONS: This research shows that the mHealth app-based intervention has the potential to improve patient health knowledge and support self-management among them toward a healthier lifestyle, including medication adherence, low-salt diets, and physical exercises, thereby achieving optimal BP control. Further research is still needed to verify the specific effects of these interventions. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Chinese Clinical Trial Registry ChiCTR1900026437; https://www.chictr.org.cn/showproj.html?proj=38801.

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