Objectives: A comprehensive and systematic assessment (HTA) of early home-supported discharge by a multidisciplinary team that plans, coordinates, and delivers care at home (EHSD) was undertaken and the results were compared with that of conventional rehabilitation at stroke units.
Methods: A systematic literature search for randomized trials (RCTs) on "early supported discharge" was closed in April 2005. RCTs on EHSD without information on (i) death or institution at follow-up, (ii) change in Barthél Index, (iii) length of hospital stay, (iv) intensity of home rehabilitation, or (v) baseline data are excluded. Seven RCTs on EHSD with 1,108 patients followed 3-12 months after discharge are selected for statistical meta-analysis of outcomes. The costs are calculated as a function of the average number of home training sessions. Economic evaluation is organized as a test of dominance (both better outcomes and lower costs).
Results: The odds ratio (OR) for "Death or institution" is reduced significantly by EHSD: OR = .75 (confidence interval [CI], .46-.95), and number needed to treat (NNT) = 14. Referrals to institution have OR = .45 (CI, .31-.96) and NNT = 20. The reduction of the rate of death is not significant. Length of stay is significantly reduced by 10 days (CI, 2.6-18 days). All outcomes have a nonsignificant positive covariance. The median number of home sessions is eleven, and the average cost per EHSD is 1,340 USD. The "action mechanism" and financial barriers to EHSD are discussed.
Conclusions: EHSD is evidenced as a dominant health intervention. However, financial barriers between municipalities and health authorities have to be overcome. For qualitative reasons, a learning path of implementation is recommended where one stroke unit in a region initiates EHSD for dissemination of new experience to the other stroke units.