Study: Socioeconomic factors bigger role in BP control than portal use

generic health IT

Socioeconomic factors play a bigger role than portal use in controlling hypertension among newly diagnosed patients, according to research published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

The study tracked follow-up care for 1,571 patients newly diagnosed with high blood pressure, using patients' electronic health record data compared with their use of a patient portal.

The researchers, from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, had previously reported a positive association between portal use and glycemic control. However, that study didn’t determine whether portal use led to better diabetes management or whether better diabetes management led to more portal use.

In this study's initial analysis, the researchers found portal users were more likely than nonusers to achieve BP control. But after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, including race, sex and socioeconomic status, the association between portal use and BP control disappeared.

They noted a digital divide: only 28 percent of non-whites used the portal, and only 18.2 percent of the lowest socioeconomic group and 19 percent of the lower-middle socioeconomic group use it. 

They called the findings inconclusive and added that the study did not delve into whether participants had access to a portal.

“Additional research is needed to determine which sociodemographic groups benefit the most from access to patient portals and what conditions and what outcomes are most sensitive to improvement via portal use,” they wrote.

To learn more:
- read the research