Community professionals' management of client care: a mixed-methods systematic review

Niina Kolehmainen, Jill Francis, Edward Duncan, Cynthia Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVES: To review the literature on individual community professionals' caseload management (behaviours related to assessment, treatment and discharging of clients) to identify the main themes and concepts, and to synthesize the findings to inform practice, policy and research.

METHODS: Publications were systematically identified from electronic databases, hand searches of bibliographies, and contact with professional organizations. There were no restrictions on language, the nature of publications or publication year. Procedures were systematically applied for quality appraisal and data extraction. Qualitative and descriptive quantitative methods were used for data analysis and synthesis.

RESULTS: Search criteria yielded 2048 papers of which 42 papers met the inclusion criteria. Thirty-five percent of these were based on research, the rest on professionals' experiences. The papers covered 16 professional and 20 client populations, and their quality was generally poor. Analysis identified six broad themes: definitions of caseload management, caseload measurement and 'tools', models of caseload management practice, client-professional relationship, discharging and professional guidance. Six papers presented issues that related to but did not fit within these themes. Current caseload management tools and models of caseload management practice had a poor evidence base. Five papers described benefits of team-based approaches. Professional guidance for caseload management is limited in detail and relevance to daily practice.

CONCLUSIONS: Although there is a considerable literature on caseload management, it is not possible to make summative conclusions. Policy-makers and professional bodies should encourage and support development of research evidence about the ways to achieve effective, efficient and equitable caseload management. Health and social care services considering implementing caseload management tools or models of practice should critically appraise their basis, and consider their potential advantages as well as disadvantages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Health Services Research & Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

This is the final draft, after peer-review, of a manuscript published in Journal of Health Services Research & Policy. The definitive version, detailed above, is available online at


  • case management
  • community health services
  • humans
  • professional practice
  • qualitative research
  • workload


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