Background: Chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) is a complex disease with rising prevalence, compromised quality of life (QoL), unplanned hospital admissions, high mortality and therefore high burden of illness. The delivery of care for these patients has been criticized and new strategies addressing crucial domains of care have been shown to be effective on patients' health outcomes, although these trials were conducted in secondary care or in highly organised Health Maintenance Organisations. It remains unclear whether a comprehensive primary care-based case management for the treating general practitioner (GP) can improve patients' QoL.
Methods/design: HICMan is a randomised controlled trial with patients as the unit of randomisation. Aim is to evaluate a structured, standardized and comprehensive complex intervention for patients with CHF in a 12-months follow-up trial. Patients from intervention group receive specific patient leaflets and documentation booklets as well as regular monitoring and screening by a prior trained practice nurse, who gives feedback to the GP upon urgency. Monitoring and screening address aspects of disease-specific self-management, (non)pharmacological adherence and psychosomatic and geriatric comorbidity. GPs are invited to provide a tailored structured counselling 4 times during the trial and receive an additional feedback on pharmacotherapy relevant to prognosis (data of baseline documentation). Patients from control group receive usual care by their GPs, who were introduced to guideline-oriented management and a tailored health counselling concept. Main outcome measurement for patients' QoL is the scale physical functioning of the SF-36 health questionnaire in a 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes are the disease specific QoL measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy questionnaire (KCCQ), depression and anxiety disorders (PHQ-9, GAD-7), adherence (EHFScBS and SANA), quality of care measured by an adapted version of the Patient Chronic Illness Assessment of Care questionnaire (PACIC) and NT-proBNP. In addition, comprehensive clinical data are collected about health status, comorbidity, medication and health care utilisation.
Discussion: As the targeted patient group is mostly cared for and treated by GPs, a comprehensive primary care-based guideline implementation including somatic, psychosomatic and organisational aspects of the delivery of care (HICMAn) is a promising intervention applying proven strategies for optimal care.