Impact of changes to national guidelines on hypertension related workload
Lay-Flurrie S., Sheppard J., Stevens R., Mallen C., Heneghan C., Hobbs F., Williams B., Mant J., McManus R.
<p><strong>Background:</strong> In 2011, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommended the routine use of out-of-office blood pressure (BP) monitoring for the diagnosis of hypertension. These changes were predicted to reduce unnecessary treatment costs and workload associated with misdiagnosis.</p> <p><strong>Aim:</strong> To assess the impact of guideline change on rates of hypertension-related consultation in general practice.</p> <p><strong>Design and Setting:</strong> Cohort study in adults registered with English general practices contributing to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink between 1/4/2006 and 31/3/2017.</p> <p><strong>Method:</strong> The primary outcome was the rate of face-to-face, telephone and visit consultations related to hypertension with a GP or nurse. Age and sex standardized rates were analysed using interrupted time-series analysis.</p> <p><strong>Results:</strong> In 3,937,191 adults (median follow-up = 4.2 years) there were 12,253,836 hypertension related consultations. The rate of hypertension related consultation was 71.0 per 100 person-years (95% CI 67.8 to 74.2) in April 2006, which remained flat prior to 2011. The introduction of the NICE hypertension guideline in 2011 was associated with a change in yearly trend (change in trend = -3.60 per 100 person-years, 95% CI -5.12 to -2.09). The rate of consultation subsequently decreased to 59.2 per 100 person-years (95% CI 56.5 to 61.8) in March 2017. These changes occurred around the time of diagnosis and persisted when accounting for wider trends in all consultations.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion:</strong> Hypertension-related workload has declined in the last decade, in association with guideline changes. This is due to changes in workload at the time of diagnosis, rather than reductions in misdiagnosis.</p>