Review Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 3, P621-629, March 2021

The Effectiveness of Transitional Care Interventions on Health Care Utilization in Patients Discharged From the Hospital With Heart Failure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Published:November 03, 2020DOI:



      Heart failure (HF) heavily burdens the global health system. Transitional care interventions attempt to streamline the hospital-to-home transition to ease the burden. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of transitional care interventions on health care utilization after hospitalization for HF.


      Systematic review and meta-analysis including dose-response relationship.

      Setting and Participants

      Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of transitional care interventions vs usual care in older patients discharged from the hospital with HF.


      Electronic databases including MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL, were systematically searched from January 2009 to October 2019 to locate relevant systematic reviews or meta-analyses. The original RCTs included in the review articles were identified, and an additional search for recently published RCTs was performed from January 2014 to June 2020. This systematic review focused on health care utilization outcomes, including hospital readmissions for HF or any cause, emergency department (ED) visits, and length of hospital stay (LOS).


      Data were summarized from 38 RCTs covering 10,871 patients. Pooled evidence suggested a mean 11% [risk ratio (RR) 0.89, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.82, 0.97] and 22% (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.68, 0.89) risk reduction on all-cause and HF-specific readmissions, but no significant reduction (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.83, 1.07) on ED visits. Findings were mixed for LOS. Subgroup analysis by different types of transitional care interventions indicated that multidisciplinary interventions currently have the best evidence for reducing readmissions up to 6 months post the index HF hospitalization. In addition, we observed an inverse linear dose-response relationship between intervention intensity (ie, frequency and duration of interventions) and complexity (ie, number of intervention components) and the risk of HF readmissions.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Transitional care interventions for hospitalized patients with HF reduced all-cause and HF-specific readmissions, but did not decrease ED visits. Multidisciplinary interventions are highly recommended if adequate resources are available.


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