Closing the Gap on Health Disparity and Treatment Outcomes in Hypertension (2020-2021)

Hypertension is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States and affects over 116 million adults. The burden of hypertension is exacerbated among minorities; prevalence among Black adults is much higher than non-Hispanic whites, and deaths attributable to hypertension are over twice as frequent among Black individuals.

This project team tested an implementation strategy to reduce hypertension disparities and improve population health in Durham County, North Carolina. Two hundred fifty-eight Black men with severe hypertension seen at Lincoln Community Health Center were identified, and a team of undergraduate and graduate students made outreach calls to these patients offering hypertension education and counseling along with a free blood pressure cuff. 

The team found that men who engaged in the program began self-monitoring their blood pressure more frequently. Upon follow-up calls in the spring, many individuals were still using their blood pressure cuffs consistently. The student calls were well-received among patients who appreciated the individualized coaching and partnership, as well as students who gained insight into the patient experience and developed a deeper understanding of the barriers to chronic disease management. 

Future efforts will focus on transitioning a virtual program back to in-person classes as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. A virtual zoom-based course for patients with hypertension is currently under development. Funding has also been secured to expand the intervention to Spanish-speaking patients and women.


Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

Team Outputs

Education and Counseling to Reduce Hypertension Disparities (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Closing the Gap on Health Disparity in Hypertension: A Quality Improvement Intervention on Self-monitoring of Blood Pressure in Black Men (poster by Beles Abebe, Arianna Buchanan, Dakota Douglas, Ashwin Gadiraju, Emily Gitlin, Rohan Gupta, Irene Jonathan, Adam Lin, Alexis Mandell, Isaiah Mason, Lily Orta, George Romero, Neha Shrishail, Kamryn Stafford, Anthony Tarakji, Katie Xu, Sandra Au, Evan Murray, Dan Tounsel, Unique Whitehurst, Holly Biola, Awanya Caesar and Bradi Granger)


Ashwin Gadiraju

This Team in the News

Meet the Members of the 2021-2022 Bass Connections Student Advisory Council

Highlights from the Bass Connections Annual Report: Seven Local Projects

Bass Connections 2020-2021 Annual Report: Selected Highlights

See related team, Closing the Gap on Health Disparity and Outcomes in Hypertension (2022-2023).


Image: Check your blood pressure yearly to help prevent hypertension, by Staff Sgt. Josie Walck/U.S. Air Force

Cuff reader.

Team Leaders

  • Holly Biola, School of Medicine-Medicine: Geriatrics
  • Bradi Granger, School of Nursing
  • L Kristin Newby, School of Medicine-Medicine: Cardiology
  • Neha Pagidipati, School of Medicine-Medicine: Cardiology

/graduate Team Members

  • Sandra Au, Medicine MD Fourth Year
  • Unique Whitehurst, Bachelors of Science - Nursing
  • Daniel Tounsel III, PPS Non-degree
  • Evan Murray, Medicine MD Fourth Year

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Katie Xu, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
  • Beles Abebe, Sociology (AB)
  • Anthony Tarakji, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Kamryn Stafford, Dance (AB)
  • Neha Shrishail, Neuroscience (BS)
  • George Romero, Biology (BS)
  • Lily Orta, Biology (BS)
  • Isaiah Mason, Int Comparative Studies (AB)
  • Alexis Mandell, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Adam Lin, Biology (BS)
  • Irene Jonathan, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Rohan Gupta, Economics (BS)
  • Emily Gitlin, Psychology (BS)
  • Ashwin Gadiraju, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)
  • Dakota Douglas, Biology (BS)
  • Arianna Buchanan, Sociology (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Tara Kinard, Duke Population Health Management Office
  • Christopher Granger, School of Medicine-Medicine: Cardiology
  • Andrew Olson, School of Medicine-Duke Clinical Research Institute
  • Manesh Patel, School of Medicine-Medicine: Cardiology
  • Robert Saunders, Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Howard Eisenson, School of Medicine-Family Medicine and Community Health: Diet and Fitness Center
  • Sean Sondej, Duke University Hospital
  • Amy Corneli, School of Medicine-Population Health Sciences
  • Maria Carroll, Duke University Health System
  • Hayden Bosworth, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences