Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether multidisciplinary strategies improve outcomes for heart failure (HF) patients.
Background: Because the prognosis of HF remains poor despite pharmacotherapy, there is increasing interest in alternative models of care delivery for these patients.
Methods: Randomized trials of multidisciplinary management programs in HF were identified by searching electronic databases and bibliographies and via contact with experts.
Results: Twenty-nine trials (5,039 patients) were identified but were not pooled, because of considerable heterogeneity. A priori, we divided the interventions into homogeneous groups that were suitable for pooling. Strategies that incorporated follow-up by a specialized multidisciplinary team (either in a clinic or a non-clinic setting) reduced mortality (risk ratio [RR] 0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.59 to 0.96), HF hospitalizations (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.87), and all-cause hospitalizations (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.92). Programs that focused on enhancing patient self-care activities reduced HF hospitalizations (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.83) and all-cause hospitalizations (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.93) but had no effect on mortality (RR 1.14, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.94). Strategies that employed telephone contact and advised patients to attend their primary care physician in the event of deterioration reduced HF hospitalizations (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.99) but not mortality (RR 0.91, 95% CI 0.67 to 1.29) or all-cause hospitalizations (RR 0.98, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.20). In 15 of 18 trials that evaluated cost, multidisciplinary strategies were cost-saving.
Conclusions: Multidisciplinary strategies for the management of patients with HF reduce HF hospitalizations. Those programs that involve specialized follow-up by a multidisciplinary team also reduce mortality and all-cause hospitalizations.