Patterns for patient engagement with the hypertension management and effects of electronic health care provider follow-up on these patterns: Cluster analysis

Publication Name

Journal of Medical Internet Research


Background: Hypertension is a long-term medical condition. Electronic and mobile health care services can help patients to self-manage this condition. However, not all management is effective, possibly due to different levels of patient engagement (PE) with health care services. Health care provider follow-up is an intervention to promote PE and blood pressure (BP) control. Objective: This study aimed to discover and characterize patterns of PE with a hypertension self-management app, investigate the effects of health care provider follow-up on PE, and identify the follow-up effects on BP in each PE pattern. Methods: PE was represented as the number of days that a patient recorded self-measured BP per week. The study period was the first 4 weeks for a patient to engage in the hypertension management service. K-means algorithm was used to group patients by PE. There was compliance follow-up, regular follow-up, and abnormal follow-up in management. The follow-up effect was calculated by the change in PE (CPE) and the change in systolic blood pressure (CSBP, SBP) before and after each follow-up. Chi-square tests and z scores were used to ascertain the distribution of gender, age, education level, SBP, and the number of follow-ups in each cluster. The follow-up effect was identified by analysis of variances. Once a significant effect was detected, Bonferroni multiple comparisons were further conducted to identify the difference between 2 clusters. Results: Patients were grouped into 4 clusters according to PE: (1) PE started low and dropped even lower (PELL), (2) PE started high and remained high (PEHH), (3) PE started high and dropped to low (PEHL), and (4) PE started low and rose to high (PELH). Significantly more patients over 60 years old were found in the PEHH cluster (P≤.05). Abnormal follow-up was significantly less frequent (P≤.05) in the PELL cluster. Compliance follow-up and regular follow-up can improve PE. In the clusters of PEHH and PELH, the improvement in PE in the first 3 weeks and the decrease in SBP in all 4 weeks were significant after follow-up. The SBP of the clusters of PELL and PELH decreased more (–6.1 mmHg and –8.4 mmHg) after follow-up in the first week. Conclusions: Four distinct PE patterns were identified for patients engaging in the hypertension self-management app. Patients aged over 60 years had higher PE in terms of recording self-measured BP using the app. Once SBP reduced, patients with low PE tended to stop using the app, and a continued decline in PE occurred simultaneously with the increase in SBP. The duration and depth of the effect of health care provider follow-up were more significant in patients with high or increased engagement after follow-up.

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Funding Sponsor

National Key Research and Development Program of China



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