A personalized digital intervention to battle high blood pressure

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By motivating and reminding people to take their medication, based on one’s own needs and behavior, researchers at Halmstad University strive to improve medication adherence among patients with hypertension. The reasons for not taking prescribed medication vary—it can be forgetfulness, fear of side effects, or lack of an understanding of the consequences—but the medication is important for preventing, for example, congestive heart failure or stroke. Use of individualized digital tools is one way to assist patients with high blood pressure in self-empowerment and hence increase medication adherence.


In a newly published article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), a group of researchers at Halmstad University conclude that there is a need for better tailored digital interventions to provide individual support for patients with hypertension (high blood pressure).


“Our studies show that it is crucial to consider behavioral strategies while designing digital interventions for hypertensive patients in order to increase their adherence to medication and improve their blood pressure control. People have different reasons for their non-compliance to for example medication, physical exercise, a healthy diet or their treatment plan, resulting in uncontrolled blood pressure. That is why it is so important with an adaptive personalised digital intervention in order to deliver the right intervention to each individual, and not delivering everything to all the patients. There is no one-size-fits-all solution!” says Kobra Etminani, Assistant Professor at the School of Information Technology at Halmstad University, and one of the involved researchers.


Creating a digital tool for patients

The research is performed in collaboration with Region Halland on a project called iMedA (Improving Medication Adherence through Person Centred Care and Adaptive Intervention). The goal of iMedA is to increase the probability of patients with hypertension picking up and taking their prescribed medication. First, the research group collected the behavioral reasons for nonadherence. This was done by analyzing patient data using data mining, a computing process of discovering patterns in large data sets. Next, these behavioral patterns from the patient data will be used to create a prototype of a digital intervention tool, which can be adapted to individual needs and behavior. Part of this step includes the systematic review published in JMIR.


“We hope that our solution can deliver the right intervention at the right time for the right person by predicting the patients’ behavior. An intervention can for example be a reminder for a forgetful or busy person, an informational content covering the lack of information barrier or a motivational message for the unmotivated person. The point is to influence the patient in an individual way. The digital intervention tool will adapt over time and can be used by both the patient and healthcare staff to increase the medication-compliance and blood pressure control,” says Kobra Etminani.


More information

Publication in JMIR: How Behavior Change Strategies are Used to Design Digital Interventions for Improving Medication Adherence and Blood Pressure Among Patients With Hypertension: Systematic Review (https://www.jmir.org/2020/4/e17201)


News article from December 2017: Digital tools that motivate patients to take their medication


About iMedA

The research project is cross-disciplinary, involving researchers from two research environments at Halmstad University: Embedded Intelligent Systems (EIS) at the School of Information Technology and the Center for Research on Welfare, Health and Sport (CVHI), at the School of Health and Welfare and Region Halland.


iMedA research project


Original article

Etminani K, Tao Engström A, Göransson C, Sant’Anna A, Nowaczyk S
How Behavior Change Strategies are Used to Design Digital Interventions to Improve Medication Adherence and Blood Pressure Among Patients With Hypertension: Systematic Review
J Med Internet Res 2020;22(4):e17201

URL: https://www.jmir.org/2020/4/e17201

doi: 10.2196/17201


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