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Med Care. 2009 Apr;47(4):395-402.

Treatment intensification and risk factor control: toward more clinically relevant quality measures.

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Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, California 94612, USA.



Intensification of pharmacotherapy in persons with poorly controlled chronic conditions has been proposed as a clinically meaningful process measure of quality.


To validate measures of treatment intensification by evaluating their associations with subsequent control in hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus across 35 medical facility populations in Kaiser Permanente, Northern California.


Hierarchical analyses of associations of improvements in facility-level treatment intensification rates from 2001 to 2003 with patient-level risk factor levels at the end of 2003.


Members (515,072 and 626,130; age >20 years) with hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and/or diabetes mellitus in 2001 and 2003, respectively.


Treatment intensification for each risk factor defined as an increase in number of drug classes prescribed, of dosage for at least 1 drug, or switching to a drug from another class within 3 months of observed poor risk factor control.


Facility-level improvements in treatment intensification rates between 2001 and 2003 were strongly associated with greater likelihood of being in control at the end of 2003 (P < or = 0.05 for each risk factor) after adjustment for patient- and facility-level covariates. Compared with facility rankings based solely on control, addition of percentages of poorly controlled patients who received treatment intensification changed 2003 rankings substantially: 14%, 51%, and 29% of the facilities changed ranks by 5 or more positions for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes, respectively.


Treatment intensification is tightly linked to improved control. Thus, it deserves consideration as a process measure for motivating quality improvement and possibly for measuring clinical performance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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