Which components of heart failure programmes are effective? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the outcomes of structured telephone support or telemonitoring as the primary component of chronic heart failure management in 8323 patients: Abridged Cochrane Review

Eur J Heart Fail. 2011 Sep;13(9):1028-40. doi: 10.1093/eurjhf/hfr039. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


Aims: Telemonitoring (TM) and structured telephone support (STS) have the potential to deliver specialized management to more patients with chronic heart failure (CHF), but their efficacy is still to be proven. The aim of this meta-analysis was to review randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of TM or STS for all-cause mortality and all-cause and CHF-related hospitalizations in patients with CHF, as a non-invasive remote model of a specialized disease-management intervention.

Methods and results: We searched all relevant electronic databases and search engines, hand-searched bibliographies of relevant studies, systematic reviews, and meeting abstracts. Two reviewers independently extracted all data. Randomized controlled trials comparing TM or STS to usual care in patients with CHF were included. Studies that included intensified management with additional home or clinic-visits were excluded. Primary outcomes (mortality and hospitalizations) were analysed; secondary outcomes (cost, length of stay, and quality of life) were tabulated. Thirty RCTs of STS and TM were identified (25 peer-reviewed publications (n= 8323) and five abstracts (n= 1482)). Of the 25 peer-reviewed studies, 11 evaluated TM (2710 participants), 16 evaluated STS (5613 participants) with two testing both STS and TM in separate intervention arms compared with usual care. Telemonitoring reduced all-cause mortality {risk ratio (RR) 0.66 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.54-0.81], P< 0.0001 }and STS showed a similar, but non-significant trend [RR 0.88 (95% CI 0.76-1.01), P= 0.08]. Both TM [RR 0.79 (95% CI 0.67-0.94), P= 0.008], and STS [RR 0.77 (95% CI 0.68-0.87), P< 0.0001] reduced CHF-related hospitalizations. Both interventions improved quality of life, reduced costs, and were acceptable to patients. Improvements in prescribing, patient-knowledge and self-care, and functional class were observed.

Conclusion: Telemonitoring and STS both appear effective interventions to improve outcomes in patients with CHF. Systematic Review Number: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008:Issue 3. Art. No.: CD007228. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007228.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Telemedicine*
  • Telephone*