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Age Ageing. 2000 Jul;29(4):349-52.

Integrated care pathways in stroke management.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine, London, UK.



an organized, goal-defined and time-specified plan of management as envisaged by the integrated care pathway approach can achieve quality outcomes at lower cost. Integrated care pathways may have applications to stroke management because diagnosis is well defined, complex interdisciplinary inputs are required and there is good evidence on best practice.


we reviewed medical, nursing, rehabilitation and health services databases to identify studies on integrated care pathways in stroke management. Criteria for inclusion were: use of a care pathway or similar methods in acute or rehabilitation settings, randomized studies or non-randomized comparisons with concurrent or historical controls and some form of outcome assessment.


we identified six non-randomized studies of acute stroke. One used concurrent controls; the rest used historical controls. Only one study investigated stroke rehabilitation and this used a quasi-randomized controlled design. Five studies in the acute setting demonstrated reduced hospital stay. A reduction in costs of care was reported in all five studies that examined costs. Two studies reported improved uptake of medical interventions. No difference in length of hospital stay, costs or functional status was seen in the rehabilitation study.


integrated care pathway methodology may facilitate quality and cost improvements in stroke care, but evidence is weak and uncertainty exists. Further evidence is needed before implementation in practice.

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