Structured review: evaluating the effectiveness of nurse case managers in improving health outcomes in three major chronic diseases

J Clin Nurs. 2009 Nov;18(21):2978-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2009.02900.x. Epub 2009 Sep 11.


Aim: This paper presents the findings of a review and appraisal of the evidence for the effectiveness of nurse case management in improving health outcomes for patients living either with Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Coronary Heart Disease.

Background: Long term chronic health conditions provide some of the greatest challenges to western health care systems. In the UK, three of the most significant chronic conditions are Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Coronary Heart Disease. Patients with these long term conditions are high users of health services who often receive unplanned, poorly co-ordinated, ad-hoc care in response to an exacerbation or crisis. To counter this, the nurse case manager is identified as a central aspect of improving care for these patients. However, the evidence for the effectiveness of nurse case management in improving health outcomes for the chronically ill is scarce.

Design: A structured review of the literature.

Method: The review was undertaken focussing on studies that evaluated nurse case management with one or all of the three major long term chronic conditions. A total of 108 papers were initially reviewed and filtered to leave 75 citations that were appraised. About 18 papers were finally included in the review and subject to thematic analysis based on the health outcomes evaluated in the studies.

Results: Significantly positive results were reported for nurse case management impact on five health outcomes; 'objective clinical measurements', 'quality of life and functionality', 'patient satisfaction', 'adherence to treatment' and 'self care and service use'.

Relevance to clinical practice: The evidence generated in this review suggests that nurse case managers have the potential to achieve improved health outcomes for patients with long term conditions. Further research is required to support role development and create a more targeted approach to the intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Case Management*
  • Chronic Disease / nursing*
  • Humans
  • Nursing*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care