Comprehensive discharge planning plus postdischarge support may reduce
readmission rates for older patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).
To evaluate the effect of comprehensive discharge planning plus postdischarge
support on the rate of readmission in patients with CHF, all-cause mortality,
length of stay (LOS), quality of life (QOL), and medical costs.
We searched MEDLINE (1966 to October 2003), the Cochrane Clinical Trials
Register (all years), Social Science Citation Index (1992 to October 2003),
and other databases for studies that described such an intervention and evaluated
its effect in patients with CHF. Where possible we also contacted lead investigators
and experts in the field.
We selected English-language publications of randomized clinical trials
that described interventions to modify hospital discharge for older patients
with CHF (mean age ≥55 years), delineated clearly defined inpatient and
outpatient components, compared efficacy with usual care, and reported readmission
as the primary outcome.
Two authors independently reviewed each report, assigned quality scores,
and extracted data for primary and secondary outcomes in an unblinded standardized
Eighteen studies representing data from 8 countries randomized 3304
older inpatients with CHF to comprehensive discharge planning plus postdischarge
support or usual care. During a pooled mean observation period of 8 months
(range, 3-12 months), fewer intervention patients were readmitted compared
with controls (555/1590 vs 741/1714, number needed to treat = 12; relative
risk [RR], 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64-0.88). Analysis of studies
reporting secondary outcomes found a trend toward lower all-cause mortality
for patients assigned to an intervention compared with usual care (RR, 0.87;
95% CI, 0.73-1.03; n = 14 studies), similar initial LOS (mean [SE]: 8.4 [2.5]
vs 8.5 [2.2] days, P = .60; n = 10), greater percentage
improvement in QOL scores compared with baseline scores (25.7% [95% CI, 11.0%-40.4%]
vs 13.5% [95% CI, 5.1%-22.0%]; n = 6, P = .01), and
similar or lower charges for medical care per patient per month for the initial
hospital stay, administering the intervention, outpatient care, and readmission
(−$359 [95% CI, −$763 to $45]; n = 4, P =
.10 for non-US trials and −$536 [95% CI, −$956 to −$115];
n = 4, P = .03, for US trials).
Comprehensive discharge planning plus postdischarge support for older
patients with CHF significantly reduced readmission rates and may improve
health outcomes such as survival and QOL without increasing costs.