Continuity of care to optimize chronic disease management in the community setting: an evidence-based analysis.
Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2013;13(6):1-41
Authors: Health Quality Ontario
BACKGROUND: This evidence-based analysis reviews relational and management continuity of care. Relational continuity refers to the duration and quality of the relationship between the care provider and the patient. Management continuity ensures that patients receive coherent, complementary, and timely care. There are 4 components of continuity of care: duration, density, dispersion, and sequence.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this evidence-based analysis was to determine if continuity of care is associated with decreased health resource utilization, improved patient outcomes, and patient satisfaction.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database were searched for studies on continuity of care and chronic disease published from January 2002 until December 2011.
REVIEW METHODS: Systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, and observational studies were eligible if they assessed continuity of care in adults and reported health resource utilization, patient outcomes, or patient satisfaction.
RESULTS: Eight systematic reviews and 13 observational studies were identified. The reviews concluded that there is an association between continuity of care and outcomes; however, the literature base is weak. The observational studies found that higher continuity of care was frequently associated with fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits. Three systematic reviews reported that higher continuity of care is associated with improved patient satisfaction, especially among patients with chronic conditions.
LIMITATIONS: Most of the studies were retrospective cross-sectional studies of large administrative databases. The databases do not capture information on trust and confidence in the provider, which is a critical component of relational continuity of care. The definitions for the selection of patients from the databases varied across studies.
CONCLUSIONS: There is low quality evidence that: Higher continuity of care is associated with decreased health service utilization.There is insufficient evidence on the relationship of continuity of care with disease-specific outcomes.There is an association between high continuity of care and patient satisfaction, particularly among patients with chronic diseases.
PMID: 24167540 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]