Design and study protocol for a cluster randomized trial of a multi-faceted implementation strategy to increase the uptake of the USPSTF hypertension screening recommendations: the EMBRACE study

Moise, Nathalie; Phillips, Erica; Carter, Eileen; Alcantara, Carmela; Julian, Jacob; Thanataveerat, Anusorn; Schwartz, Joseph E.; Ye, Siqin; Duran, Andrea; Shimbo, Daichi; Kronish, Ian M.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends out-of-office blood pressure (BP) testing to exclude white coat hypertension prior to hypertension diagnosis. Despite improved availability and coverage of home and 24-h ambulatory BP monitoring (HBPM, ABPM), both are infrequently used to confirm diagnoses. We used the Behavior Change Wheel (BCW) framework, a multi-step process for mapping barriers to theory-informed behavior change techniques, to develop a multi-component implementation strategy for increasing out-of-office BP testing for hypertension diagnosis. Informed by geographically diverse provider focus groups (n = 63) exploring barriers to out-of-office testing and key informant interviews (n = 12), a multi-disciplinary team (medicine, psychology, nursing) used rigorous mixed methods to develop, refine, locally adapt, and finalize intervention components.
The purpose of this report is to describe the protocol of the Effects of a Multi-faceted intervention on Blood pRessure Actions in the primary Care Environment (EMBRACE) trial, a cluster randomized control trial evaluating whether a theory-informed multi-component strategy increased out-of-office testing for hypertension diagnosis.

The EMBRACE Trial patient sample will include all adults ≥ 18 years of age with a newly elevated office BP (≥ 140/90 mmHg) at a scheduled visit with a primary care provider from a study clinic. All providers with scheduled visits with adult primary care patients at enrolled ACN primary care clinics were included. We determined that the most feasible, effective implementation strategy would include delivering education about out-of-office testing, demonstration/instruction on how to perform out-of-office HBPM and ABPM testing, feedback on completion rates of out-of-office testing, environmental prompts/cues via computerized clinical decision support (CDS) tool, and a culturally tailored, locally accessible ABPM testing service. We are currently comparing the effect of this locally adapted multi-component strategy with usual care on the change in the proportion of eligible patients who complete out-of-office BP testing in a 1:1 cluster randomized trial across 8 socioeconomically diverse clinics.

The EMBRACE trial is the first trial to test an implementation strategy for improving out-of-office testing for hypertension diagnosis. It will elucidate the degree to which targeting provider behavior via education, reminders, and decision support in addition to providing an ABPM testing service will improve referral to and completion of ABPM and HBPMs.

Trial registration


, Registered on 29 March 2018


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Implementation Science

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August 10, 2022


Hypertension, Out-of-office testing, Primary health care