Full coverage for hypertension drugs in rural communities in China.
ABSTRACT Background: The control rate for hypertension is unacceptably low worldwide, and poor adherence to medication is a primary reason. Objectives: To evaluate the impact of full coverage for hypertension drugs on adherence to medication, medical costs, and hypertension control in Shandong Province, China. Methods: In November 2009, we interviewed 110 hypertensive patients who had been participating in a free medication program since May 2008 and 241 hypertensive patients who were not participating. We used a 1:1 propensity-score matching technique to obtain matched samples of 102 program participants (intervention) and 102 nonparticipants (control). We used univariate analysis to compare patient drug-taking behaviors, medical costs, and hypertension control between the 2 groups. Results: All intervention patients took > 1 drugs for hypertension control and 93% of them took > 3 such drugs, 15 control patients (15%) did not take any, and only 39% took 3 or more (P < .001). Three-fourths (75%) of the intervention patients took the prescribed drugs regularly, whereas 66% of the control group (P = .034) did so. Participation in the program was associated with lower annual out-of-pocket medical costs both overall and for outpatient services (P < .001 for both). Conclusions: Low-income rural residents in China receiving free drugs had enhanced medication adherence and reduced total medical costs. Providing hypertension drugs at no charge may be a promising strategy for preventing costly cardiovascular events associated with hypertension in China and other parts of the world with growing rates of cardiovascular disease.
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ABSTRACT: Hypertension (HT) affects an estimated one billion people worldwide, nearly three-quarters of whom live in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). In both developed and developing countries, only a minority of individuals with HT are adequately treated. The reasons are many but, as with other chronic diseases, they include weaknesses in health systems. We conducted a systematic review of the influence of national or regional health systems on HT awareness, treatment, and control. Eligible studies were those that analyzed the impact of health systems arrangements at the regional or national level on HT awareness, treatment, control, or antihypertensive medication adherence. The following databases were searched on 13th May 2013: Medline, Embase, Global Health, LILACS, Africa-Wide Information, IMSEAR, IMEMR, and WPRIM. There were no date or language restrictions. Two authors independently assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to substantial methodological heterogeneity in included studies. 53 studies were included, 11 of which were carried out in LMICs. Most studies evaluated health system financing and only four evaluated the effect of either human, physical, social, or intellectual resources on HT outcomes. Reduced medication co-payments were associated with improved HT control and treatment adherence, mainly evaluated in US settings. On balance, health insurance coverage was associated with improved outcomes of HT care in US settings. Having a routine place of care or physician was associated with improved HT care. This review supports the minimization of medication co-payments in health insurance plans, and although studies were largely conducted in the US, the principle is likely to apply more generally. Studies that identify and analyze complexities and links between health systems arrangements and their effects on HT management are required, particularly in LMICs. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.PLoS Medicine 07/2013; 10(7):e1001490. DOI:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490 · 14.00 Impact Factor