Objective: This study was undertaken to determine the health and cost effects of using home care to treat newly diagnosed Type I diabetic children rather than traditional inpatient hospital care. There had been no well-designed evaluations of home care for such children, and very few for children with other health conditions.
Methods: Sixty-three children seen at the Montreal Children's Hospital were randomly assigned at diagnosis to home care or traditional inpatient care. The children in the former group were discharged once their metabolic condition stabilized; insulin adjustments and teaching were done in their homes by a trained nurse. The children in the latter group remained hospitalized for insulin adjustments and teaching. All were followed for 24 months. The cost effects were estimated using hospital and parental data.
Results: Social costs were only $48 higher with home care. It had little effect on social costs, because the increased costs of health care services with home care ($768) were largely offset by parental cost savings ($720). Home care improved the children's metabolic outcomes without adversely affecting their psychosocial outcomes.
Conclusions: Using home care to reduce hospital stays for children with newly diagnosed Type I diabetes improved the children's health outcomes without significantly increasing social costs.