Evidence Summary

What is an Evidence Summary?

Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

Got It, Hide this
  • Rating:

Integrated care programs can reduce hospital admissions, improve adherence to treatment guidelines and improve patient quality of life

Martínez-González NA, Berchtold P, Ullman K, Busato A, Egger M. International Journal for Quality in Health Care. October 2014;26(5):561-570.

Review question

Do integrated care programs for adults with chronic conditions lead to reduced use of healthcare resources, greater adherence to treatments, improved patient quality of life, and cost-savings?


Integrated care programs make use of technology and change organizational structure to improve coordination between healthcare professionals.

Enhancing healthcare collaboration is a promising means of improving quality of life for patients with chronic diseases and allowing for more efficient use healthcare resources.

Several systematic reviews have investigated the effectiveness of integrated care for patients with chronic disease, but they are outdated and of questionable quality. 

How the review was done

A number of electronic databases were searched for reviews published between 1946 and 2012, and those that focused on the effects of integrated care programs in adult patients with chronic non-communicable diseases were included in an overview of reviews.  

Of the 3610 reviews identified, 27 were deemed eligible and included in the overview.

This overview was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

What the researchers found

Integrated care was consistently shown to reduce hospital admission and re-admission, improve adherence to treatment guidelines, and improve quality of life among adults with chronic disease.

There is little evidence to suggest that integrated care results in a reduction of direct or indirect costs.

The quality of included studies varied, and few looked at all components of integrated care systems.  


Integrated care programs were found to reduce demand for healthcare resources and improve adherence to treatment guidelines, however few included studies showed a reduction in costs. More high-quality evidence is needed to confirm which components or interventions should be prioritized in integrated care programs to maximize their benefit.


Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

Related Web Resources

  • Dementia in long-term care

    Canadian Institute for Health Information
    Older adults with dementia may need to move into long-term care homes if they can no longer stay at home. These people have higher risk of getting physically restrained or given antipsychotic medication. Changes to policy and education have made these things happen less often.
  • Treating pressure ulcers: New evidence, continued uncertainty

    Evidently Cochrane
    Gauze dressings should not be used to treat pressure ulcers (bed sores). Other options include alginate dressings, hydrogel dressings, and negative pressure wound therapy. More evidence is needed about which options are best to improve pain and reduce complications. Research should measure outcomes that matter to patients and carers as well as health professionals.
  • Patient education: Delirium (Beyond the Basics)

    UpToDate - patient information
    Delirium is the result of brain changes that lead to confusion, lack of focus and memory problems. There is no specific treatment for delirium - it is best to avoid risks, treat underlying illnesses and receive supportive care. Sedatives and physical restraints should be avoided.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

Register for free access to all Professional content