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Effectiveness of a primary care-based integrated mobile health intervention for stroke management in rural China (SINEMA): A cluster-randomized controlled trial

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journal contribution
posted on 02.08.2021, 03:11 by LL Yan, E Gong, W Gu, EL Turner, JA Gallis, Y Zhou, Z Li, KE McCormack, LQ Xu, JP Bettger, S Tang, Y Wang, Brian OldenburgBrian Oldenburg
Managing noncommunicable diseases through primary healthcare has been identified as the key strategy to achieve universal health coverage but is challenging in most low- and middle-income countries. Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in rural China. This study aims to determine whether a primary care-based integrated mobile health intervention (SINEMA intervention) could improve stroke management in rural China. Methods and findings Based on extensive barrier analyses, contextual research, and feasibility studies, we conducted a community-based, two-arm cluster-randomized controlled trial with blinded outcome assessment in Hebei Province, rural Northern China including 1,299 stroke patients (mean age: 65.7 [SD:8.2], 42.6% females, 71.2% received education below primary school) recruited from 50 villages between June 23 and July 21, 2017. Villages were randomly assigned (1:1) to either the intervention or control arm (usual care). In the intervention arm, village doctors who were government-sponsored primary healthcare providers received training, conducted monthly follow-up visits supported by an Android-based mobile application, and received performance-based payments. Participants received monthly doctor visits and automatically dispatched daily voice messages. The primary outcome was the 12-month change in systolic blood pressure (BPAU ). Secondary: PleasenotethatBPhasbeendefinedasbloodpressureinitsfi outcomes were predefined, including diastolic BP, health-related quality of life, physical activity level, self-reported medication adherence (antiplatelet, statin, and antihypertensive), and performance in “timed up and go” test. Analyses were conducted in the intention-to-treat framework at the individual level with clusters and stratified design accounted for by following the prepublished statistical analysis plan. All villages completed the 12-month follow-up, and 611 (intervention) and 615 (control) patients were successfully followed (3.4% lost to follow-up among survivors). The program was implemented with high fidelity, and the annual program delivery cost per capita was US$24.3. There was a significant reduction in systolic BP in the intervention as compared with the control group with an adjusted mean difference: −2.8 mm Hg (95% CI −4.8, −0.9; p = 0.005). The intervention was significantly associated with improvements in 6 ledforthoseusedinthetext out of 7 secondary:Pleaseverifythatallentriesarecorrect outcomes in diastolic BP reduction: (p < 0.001), health-related quality of life (p = 0.008), physical activity level (p < 0.001), adherence in statin (p = 0.003) and antihypertensive medicines (p = 0.039), and performance in “timed up and go” test (p = 0.022). We observed reductions in all exploratory outcomes, including stroke recurrence (4.4% versus 9.3%; risk ratio [RR] = 0.46, 95% CI 0.32, 0.66; risk difference [RD] = 4.9 percentage points [pp]), hospitalization (4.4% versus 9.3%; RR = 0.45, 95% CI 0.32, 0.62; RD = 4.9 pp), disability (20.9% versus 30.2%; RR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.53, 0.79; RD = 9.3 pp), and death (1.8% versus 3.1%; RR = 0.52, 95% CI 0.28, 0.96; RD = 1.3 pp). Limitations include the relatively short study duration of only 1 year and the generalizability of our findings beyond the study setting. Conclusions In this study, a primary care-based mobile health intervention integrating provider-centered and patient-facing technology was effective in reducing BP and improving stroke secondary prevention in a resource-limited rural setting in China.


The study is funded by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Department for International Development, and Wellcome Trust (Grant No: MR/N015967/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. LLY is also supported by the National Science Foundation of China (Grant no: 71774075). EG is supported by the University of Melbourne Graduate Scholarship and NHMRC (1170937). BO is supported by NHMRC (1170937).


Publication Date



PLoS Medicine





Article Number

ARTN e1003582







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