BACKGROUND: In people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) there is considerable variation in symptoms, limitations and well-being, which often complicates medical care. To improve quality of life (QoL) and exercise tolerance, while reducing the number of exacerbations, a multidisciplinary program including different elements of care is needed.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effects of integrated disease management (IDM) programs or interventions in people with COPD on health-related QoL, exercise tolerance and number of exacerbations.
SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Register of trials, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL for potentially eligible studies (last searched 12 April 2012).
SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized controlled trials evaluating IDM programs for COPD compared with controls were included. Included interventions consisted of multidisciplinary (two or more health care providers) and multi-treatment (two or more components) IDM programs with a duration of at least three months.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data; if required, we contacted authors for additional data. We performed meta-analyses using random-effects modeling. We carried out sensitivity analysis for allocation concealment, blinding of outcome assessment, study design and intention-to-treat analysis.
MAIN RESULTS: A total of 26 trials involving 2997 people were included, with a follow-up ranging from 3 to 24 months. Studies were conducted in 11 different countries. The mean age of the included participants was 68 years, 68% were male and the mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)% predicted value was 44.3% (range 28% to 66%). Participants were treated in all types of healthcare settings: primary (n = 8), secondary (n = 12), tertiary care (n = 1), and in both primary and secondary care (n = 5). Overall, the studies were of high to moderate methodological quality.Compared with controls, IDM showed a statistically and clinically significant improvement in disease-specific QoL on all domains of the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire after 12 months: dyspnea (mean difference (MD) 1.02; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.67 to 1.36); fatigue (MD 0.82; 95% CI 0.46 to 1.17); emotional (MD 0.61; 95% CI 0.26 to 0.95) and mastery (MD 0.75; 95% CI 0.38 to 1.12). The St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) for QoL reached the clinically relevant difference of four units only for the impact domain (MD -4.04; 95% CI -5.96 to -2.11, P < 0.0001). IDM showed a significantly improved disease-specific QoL on the activity domain of the SGRQ: MD -2.70 (95% CI -4.84 to -0.55, P = 0.01). There was no significant difference on the symptom domain of the SGRQ: MD -2.39 (95% CI -5.31 to 0.53, P = 0.11). According to the GRADE approach, quality of evidence on the SGRQ was scored as high quality, and on the CRQ as moderate quality evidence. Participants treated with an IDM program had a clinically relevant improvement in six-minute walking distance of 43.86 meters compared with controls after 12 months (95% CI 21.83 to 65.89; P < 0.001, moderate quality). There was a reduction in the number of participants with one or more hospital admissions over three to 12 months from 27 per 100 participants in the control group to 20 (95% CI 15 to 27) per 100 participants in the IDM group (OR 0.68; 95% CI 0.47 to 0.99, P = 0.04; number needed to treat = 15). Hospitalization days were significantly lower in the IDM group compared with controls after 12 months (MD -3.78 days; 95% CI -5.90 to -1.67, P < 0.001). Admissions and hospital days were graded as high quality evidence. No adverse effects were reported in the intervention group. No difference between groups was found on mortality (OR 0.96; 95%CI 0.52 to 1.74). There was insufficient evidence to refute or confirm the long term effectiveness of IDM.
AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: In these COPD participants, IDM not only improved disease-specific QoL and exercise capacity, but also reduced hospital admissions and hospital days per person.
The concept of integrated disease management in COPD is well understood in the field. The challenge is securing the resources and engaging 3rd party carriers to support this multidiciplinary approach.
Heterogeneous studies makes it hard to identify the value of specific interventions in a field with a long history of difficulty proving value. It is difficult to understand how mere multiplicity of interventions could yield benefit. Data beg for dissection.