Is case management effective in reducing the risk of unplanned hospital admissions for older people? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Alyson L. Huntley, Rebecca Louise Thomas, Mala K. Mann, Dyfed Wyn Huws, Glyn Elwyn, Shantini Paranjothy, Sarah Purdy* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Case management is a collaborative practice involving coordination of care by a range of health professionals, both within the community and at the interface of primary and secondary care. It has been promoted as a way of reducing unplanned admissions in older people.
Objective. The objective was to systematically review evidence from randomized controlled trials regarding the effectiveness of case management in reducing the risk of unplanned hospital admissions in older people.
Methods. Eighteen databases were searched from inception to June 2010. Relevant websites were searched with key words and reference lists of included studies checked. A risk-of-bias tool was used to assess included studies and data extraction performed using customized tables. The primary outcome of interest was enumeration of unplanned hospital admission or readmissions.
Results. Eleven trials of case management in the older population were included. Risk of bias was generally low. Six were trials of hospital-initiated case management. Three were suitable for meta-analysis, of which two showed a reduction in unplanned admissions. Overall, there was no statistically significant reduction in unplanned admissions [relative rate: 0.71 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.49 to 1.03)]. Three trials reported reduced length of stay. Five trials were of community-initiated case management. None showed a reduction in unplanned admissions. Three were suitable for meta-analysis [mean difference in unplanned admissions: 0.05 (95% CI: ?0.04 to 0.15)].
Conclusions. The identified trials included a range of case management interventions. Nine of the 11 trials showed no reduction of unplanned hospital admissions with case management compared with the same with usual care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding: National Institute for Health Research, Research for Patient Benefit programme (PB-PG1208–18013). This paper presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.


  • Case management;
  • Hospital admissions
  • Meta-analysis
  • older people
  • randomized controlled trial
  • systematic review


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