Structured telephone support or telemonitoring programmes for patients with chronic heart failure

The objective of this study was to review randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of structured telephone support or telemonitoring compared to standard practice for patients with CHF in order to quantify the effects of these interventions over and above usual care for these patients. Only peer reviewed, published RCTs comparing structured telephone support or telemonitoring to usual care of CHF patients were included. Unpublished abstract data was included in sensitivity analyses. The intervention or usual care could not include a home visit or more than the usual (four to six weeks) clinic follow-up. Data were presented as risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Primary outcomes included all-cause mortality, all-cause and CHF-related hospitalisations which were meta-analysed using fixed effects models. Other outcomes included length of stay, quality of life, acceptability and cost and these were described and tabulated. Twenty-five studies and five published abstracts were included. Of the 25 full peer-reviewed studies meta-analysed, 16 evaluated structured telephone support (5613 participants), 11 evaluated telemonitoring (2710 participants), and two tested both interventions (included in counts). Telemonitoring reduced all-cause mortality (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.54 to 0.81, P < 0.0001) with structured telephone support demonstrating a non-significant positive effect (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.76 to 1.01, P = 0.08). Both structured telephone support (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.87, P < 0.0001) and telemonitoring (RR 0.79, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.94, P = 0.008) reduced CHF-related hospitalisations. For both interventions, several studies improved quality of life, reduced healthcare costs and were acceptable to patients. Improvements in prescribing, patient knowledge and self-care, and New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class were observed.

Structured telephone support and telemonitoring are effective in reducing the risk of all-cause mortality and CHF-related hospitalisations in patients with CHF; they improve quality of life, reduce costs, and evidence-based prescribing.

Inglis SC, Clark RA, McAlister FA, Ball J, Lewinter C, Cullington D, Stewart S, Cleland JGF. Structured telephone support or telemonitoring programmes for patients with chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD007228.

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