Interventions to Improve Communication at Hospital Discharge and Rates of Readmission: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Link to article at PubMed

JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Aug 2;4(8):e2119346. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.19346.


IMPORTANCE: Shortcomings in the education of patients at hospital discharge are associated with higher risks for treatment failure and hospital readmission. Whether improving communication at discharge through specific interventions has an association with patient-relevant outcomes remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis on the association of communication interventions at hospital discharge with readmission rates and other patient-relevant outcomes.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL were systematically searched from the inception of each database to February 28, 2021.

STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials that randomized patients to receiving a discharge communication intervention or a control group were included.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Two independent reviewers extracted data on outcomes and trial and patient characteristics. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Data were pooled using a random-effects model, and risk ratios (RRs) with corresponding 95% CIs are reported. This study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was hospital readmission, and secondary outcomes included adherence to treatment regimen, patient satisfaction, mortality, and emergency department reattendance 30 days after hospital discharge.

RESULTS: We included 60 randomized clinical trials with a total of 16 070 patients for the qualitative synthesis and 19 trials with a total of 3953 patients for the quantitative synthesis of the primary outcome. Of these, 11 trials had low risk of bias, 6 trials had high risk of bias, and 2 trials had unclear risk of bias. Communication interventions at discharge were significantly associated with lower readmission rates (179 of 1959 patients [9.1%] in intervention groups vs 270 of 1994 patients [13.5%] in control groups; RR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56-0.84), higher adherence to treatment regimen (1729 of 2009 patients [86.1%] in intervention groups vs 1599 of 2024 patients [79.0%] in control groups; RR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.13-1.37), and higher patient satisfaction (1187 of 1949 patients [60.9%] in intervention groups vs 991 of 2002 patients [49.5%] in control groups; RR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.20-1.66).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings suggest that communication interventions at discharge are significantly associated with fewer hospital readmissions, higher treatment adherence, and higher patient satisfaction and thus are important to facilitate the transition of care.

PMID:34448868 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.19346

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