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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Oct 6;(10):CD007717. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007717.pub2.

Telehealthcare for asthma.

Author information

1
Allergy & Respiratory Research Group, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Doorway 1, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, EH8 9AG.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Healthcare systems internationally need to consider new models of care to cater for the increasing numbers of people with asthma. Telehealthcare interventions are increasingly being seen by policymakers as a potential means of delivering asthma care. We defined telehealthcare as being healthcare delivered from a distance, facilitated electronically and involving the exchange of information through the personalised interaction between a healthcare professional using their skills and judgement and the patient providing information.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the effectiveness of telehealthcare interventions in people with asthma.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

We searched in the following databases: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, and PsycINFO; this was supplemented by handsearching of respiratory journals. We also searched registers of ongoing and unpublished trials.

SELECTION CRITERIA:

We selected completed randomised controlled trials of telehealthcare initiatives aiming to improve asthma care.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

Two review authors independently appraised studies for inclusion and extracted data and performed meta-analyses. We analysed dichotomous variables to produce an odds ratio (OR) and continuous variables to produce a mean difference.

MAIN RESULTS:

We included 21 trials in this review. The 21 included studies investigated a range of technologies aiming to support the provision of care from a distance. These included: telephone (n = 9); video-conferencing (n = 2); Internet (n = 2); other networked communications (n = 6); text Short Messaging Service (n = 1); or a combination of text and Internet (n = 1). Meta-analysis showed that these interventions did not result in clinically important improvements in asthma quality of life (minimum clinically important difference = 0.5): mean difference in Juniper's Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) 0.08 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.16). Telehealthcare for asthma resulted in a non-significant increase in the odds of emergency department visits over a 12-month period: OR 1.16 (95% CI 0.52 to 2.58). There was, however, a significant reduction in hospitalisations over a 12-month period: OR 0.21 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.61), the effect being most marked in people with more severe asthma managed predominantly in secondary care settings.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

Telehealthcare interventions are unlikely to result in clinically relevant improvements in health outcomes in those with relatively mild asthma, but they may have a role in those with more severe disease who are at high risk of hospital admission. Further trials evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a range of telehealthcare interventions are needed.

Comment in

PMID:
20927763
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD007717.pub2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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