Multimorbidity, the coexistence of multiple chronic conditions within an individual, is a growing global health challenge affecting a significant portion of the population. Patients with multimorbidity often face complex healthcare needs, leading to increased unplanned healthcare utilization. In an effort to address this issue, community-based interventions have emerged as potential solutions for providing continued care outside of traditional hospital settings. Our systematic review published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine aims to summarize the impact of these interventions on unplanned healthcare use in patients with multimorbidity.
The Burden of Multimorbidity
With the prevalence of multimorbidity increasing, affecting approximately one-third of the global population, it is crucial to find effective strategies to manage this complex condition. The challenges posed by multimorbidity often result in frequent emergency department visits and hospital admissions, placing a significant strain on healthcare resources.
Community-based interventions offer a promising approach to address the needs of multimorbid patients. These interventions focus on delivering care in community settings, with an emphasis on education, self-monitoring of symptoms, and regular follow-ups. Additionally, some interventions aim to improve care coordination, advance care planning, and provide palliative care for patients with severe conditions. By implementing these interventions, healthcare providers seek to enhance patient self-management, reduce the burden on emergency departments, and improve overall health outcomes.
Findings from the Systematic Review
Thirteen studies, involving a total of 6148 participants, were included in this systematic review. Notably, all the studies were conducted in high-income settings and primarily focused on elderly people. The primary outcome assessed across all studies was emergency department attendance. The risk of bias was generally low across the included studies.
The results revealed that all 13 studies reported a decrease in emergency department visits following the implementation of community-based interventions. The risk reduction ranged from 0 (95% confidence interval [CI]: –0.37 to 0.37) to 0.735 (95% CI: 0.688–0.785). This suggests that these interventions have the potential to effectively reduce unplanned healthcare usage among patients with multimorbidity.
Challenges and Future Directions
Identifying specific successful components of community interventions proved challenging due to the overlaps between different interventions. However, the overall findings strongly support the integration of community-based approaches into existing healthcare structures. Policymakers should recognize the importance of these interventions and work towards their implementation to alleviate the burden on emergency departments and improve patient outcomes.
Future research must explore the impact of community interventions on a broader range of participants. This will allow for a better understanding of the effectiveness of these interventions in diverse populations and settings. By expanding the scope of research, we can gain deeper insights into the potential benefits of community-based interventions for patients with multimorbidity.
Community-based interventions have shown promise in reducing emergency department visits among patients with multimorbidity. These interventions empower patients to manage their conditions, promote education, and improve care coordination. Policymakers and healthcare providers should recognize the value of these interventions and work towards integrating them into existing healthcare structures. By doing so, we can enhance patient care, reduce healthcare costs, and alleviate the burden on emergency departments. As we move forward, further research is needed to explore the broader impact of community interventions and their potential to improve outcomes for patients with multimorbidity in various contexts.