Background: Disease management programs (DMPs) are intended to improve the care of persons with chronic diseases. Despite numerous studies there is no unequivocal evidence about the effectiveness of DMPs in Germany.
Method: We conducted a systematic literature review in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and CCMed databases. Our analysis included all controlled studies in which patients with type 2 diabetes enrolled in a DMP were compared to type 2 diabetes patients receiving routine care with respect to process, outcome, and economic parameters.
Results: The 9 studies included in the analysis were highly divergent with respect to their characteristics and the process and outcome parameters studied in each. No study had data beyond the year 2008. In 3 publications, the DMP patients had a lower mortality than the control patients (2.3%, 11.3%, and 7.17% versus 4.7%, 14.4%, and 14.72%). In 2 publications, DMP participation was found to be associated with a mean survival time of 1044.94 (± 189.87) days, as against 985.02 (± 264.68) in the control group. No consistent effect was seen with respect to morbidity, quality of life, or economic parameters. 7 publications from 5 studies revealed positive effects on process parameters for DMP participants.
Conclusion: The observed beneficial trends with respect to mortality and survival time, as well as improvements in process parameters, indicate that DMPs can, in fact, improve the care of patients with diabetes. Further evaluation is needed, because some changes in outcome parameters (an important indicator of the quality of care) may only be observable over a longer period of time.