Economic analysis of a tailored behavioral intervention to improve blood pressure control for primary care patients.



Few telemedicine programs have undergone cost analyses, impeding their implementation into practice. We report on the economic analysis of a nurse-administered intervention designed to improve blood pressure control among hypertensive veterans.


We randomized hypertensive patients at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center primary care clinic to behavioral (n = 294) or nonbehavioral (n = 294) interventions. Behavioral intervention patients received tailored information bimonthly for 2 years via telephone. To calculate intervention cost, we microcosted the nurse's labor cost and computer hardware and software costs, applied a direct-to-indirect cost ratio, and distributed the costs over an estimated cohort of patients. We analyzed data from the Veterans Affairs Decision Support System to assess whether the intervention impacted overall health care utilization and costs. We used life expectancy estimates from the literature to develop decision models to calculate cost per life-year saved.


The mean annual intervention cost was $112 (range $61-$259). During 2 years of follow-up, patients in the intervention group incurred $7,800 in inpatient costs and $9,741 in outpatient costs; the nonintervention group incurred $6,866 in inpatient costs and $9,599 in outpatient costs. The total cost difference was not statistically significant (P = .56). Cost-effectiveness of the behavioral intervention ranged from $42,457 per life-year saved for normal-weight women to $87,300 per life-year saved for normal-weight men.


The study results suggest that a nurse-administered, tailored behavioral intervention can be implemented at nominal cost and be cost-effective; however, there was no apparent lowering of health care utilization and costs during the 2 years of follow-up.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Datta, Santanu K, Eugene Z Oddone, Maren K Olsen, Melinda Orr, Felicia McCant, Pam Gentry and Hayden B Bosworth (2010). Economic analysis of a tailored behavioral intervention to improve blood pressure control for primary care patients. American heart journal, 160(2). pp. 257–263. 10.1016/j.ahj.2010.05.024 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Eugene Zaverio Oddone

Professor Emeritus of Medicine

I am a health services researcher whose primary research interests are: 1) evaluating the effectiveness of primary care with an emphasis on chronic disease, 2) assessing the reasons and testing interventions to reduce racial variation in access the health care and utilization of health services, 3) determining appropriate interventions to improve blood pressure control for hypertensive patients treated in primary care. I have research expertise in racial variation, blood pressure control, disease management, and tele-medicine. I also have methodologic expertise in designing and testing health services interventions in multi-site clinical trials.

Key words: primary care, racial variation, quality of care, hypertension


Maren Karine Olsen

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Health services research, longitudinal data methods, missing data methods


Hayden Barry Bosworth

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Dr. Bosworth is a health services researcher and Deputy Director of the Center of Innovation to Accelerate Discovery and Practice Transformation (ADAPT)  at the Durham VA Medical Center. He is also Vice Chair of Education and Professor of Population Health Sciences. He is also a Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Nursing at Duke University Medical Center and Adjunct Professor in Health Policy and Administration at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests comprise three overarching areas of research: 1) clinical research that provides knowledge for improving patients’ treatment adherence and self-management in chronic care; 2) translation research to improve access to quality of care; and 3) eliminate health care disparities. 

Dr. Bosworth is the recipient of an American Heart Association established investigator award, the 2013 VA Undersecretary Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research (The annual award is the highest honor for VA health services researchers), and a VA Senior Career Scientist Award. In terms of self-management, Dr. Bosworth has expertise developing interventions to improve health behaviors related to hypertension, coronary artery disease, and depression, and has been developing and implementing tailored patient interventions to reduce the burden of other chronic diseases. These trials focus on motivating individuals to initiate health behaviors and sustaining them long term and use members of the healthcare team, particularly pharmacists and nurses. He has been the Principal Investigator of over 30 trials resulting in over 400 peer reviewed publications and four books. This work has been or is being implemented in multiple arenas including Medicaid of North Carolina, private payers, The United Kingdom National Health System Direct, Kaiser Health care system, and the Veterans Affairs.

Areas of Expertise: Health Behavior, Health Services Research, Implementation Science, Health Measurement, and Health Policy

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.