Hospital to community transitional care by nurse practitioners: a systematic review of cost-effectiveness.
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OBJECTIVES: To determine the cost-effectiveness of nurse practitioners delivering transitional care. DESIGN: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. DATA SOURCES: Ten electronic databases, bibliographies, hand-searches, study authors, and websites. REVIEW METHODS: We included randomised controlled trials that compared formally trained nurse practitioners to usual care and measured health system outcomes. Two reviewers independently screened articles and assessed study quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias and the Quality of Health Economic Studies tools. We pooled data for similar outcomes and applied the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool to rate the quality of evidence for each outcome. RESULTS: Five trials met the inclusion criteria. One evaluated one alternative provider nurse practitioner (154 patients) and four evaluated six complementary provider nurse practitioners (1017 patients). Two were at low and three at high risk of bias and all had weak economic analyses. The alternative provider nurse practitioner had similar patient outcomes and resource use to the physician (low quality). Complementary provider nurse practitioners scored similarly to the control group in patient outcomes except for anxiety in rehabilitation patients (MD: -15.7, 95%CI: -20.73 to -10.67, p<0.001) (very low quality) and patient satisfaction after an abdominal hysterectomy (MD: 14, 95%CI: 3.5-24.5, p<0.01) (low quality), both favouring nurse practitioner care. Meta-analyses of index re-hospitalisation up to 42 days (n=766, pooled relative risk (RR): 0.69, 95%CI: 0.34-1.43, I(2)=0%) and any re-hospitalisation up to 180 days (n=800, pooled RR: 0.87, 95%CI: 0.69-1.09, I(2)=32%) were inconclusive (low quality). Complementary provider nurse practitioners significantly reduced index re-hospitalisation over 90 days (RR: 0.55, 95%CI: 0.32-0.94, p=0.03) and 180 days (RR: 0.62, 95%CI: 0.40-0.95, p=0.03) in complex care patients (both low quality) and they significantly reduced the number and duration of rehabilitation patient-to-staff consultation calls (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Given the low quality evidence, weak economic analyses, small sample sizes, and small number of nurse practitioners evaluated in each study, evidence of the cost-effectiveness of nurse practitioner-transitional care is inconclusive and further research is needed.
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