Transitional Care Interventions for Older Residents of Long-term Care Facilities: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Kelly Birtwell, Claire Planner, Alexander Hodkinson, Alex Hall, Sally Giles, Stephen Campbell, Natasha Tyler, Maria Panagioti, Gavin Daker-White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) experience high hospitalization rates, yet little is known about the effects of transitional care interventions for these residents.

Objective: To assess the association of transitional care interventions with readmission rates and other outcomes for residents of LTCFs who are 65 years and older and LTCF staff and to explore factors that potentially mitigate the association.

Data Sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched for English-language studies published until July 21, 2021. Associated qualitative studies were identified using aspects of the CLUSTER (citations, lead authors, unpublished materials, searched Google Scholar, tracked theories, ancestry search for early examples, and follow-up of related projects) methodology.

Study Selection: Controlled design studies evaluating transitional care interventions for residents of LTCFs 65 years and older were included. Records were independently screened by 2 reviewers; disagreements were resolved through discussion and involvement of a third reviewer. From 14 538 records identified, 15 quantitative and 4 qualitative studies met the eligibility criteria.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: The study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer. Fixed-effect and random-effects models were used according to the number of studies reporting the outcomes of interest.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome consisted of 30-, 60-, and 90-day readmission rates (hospital and emergency department [ED]). Other outcomes included length of stay, functional independence (Barthel score), and quality of life. The I2 statistic was used to quantify heterogeneity.

Results: Of 14 538 records identified from searches, 15 quantitative studies (totaling 32 722 participants or records) and 4 qualitative studies were included. People allocated to transitional care interventions were 1.7 times less likely to be readmitted to the hospital or ED compared with those in control groups (14 studies; odds ratio, 1.66 [95% CI, 1.18-2.35]; I2 = 81% [95% CI, 70%-88%]). Length of stay in the ED was significantly decreased for intervention groups (3 studies; standardized mean difference, -3.00 [95% CI, -3.61 to -2.39]; I2 = 99% [95% CI, 98%-99%]). There were no significant differences for other outcomes. Factors associated with outcomes included communication and referral processes between health care professionals.

Conclusions and Relevance: Emerging evidence suggests that transitional care interventions are associated with lower readmissions for residents of LTCFs 65 years and older. Despite this and with aging populations, investment in such interventions has been remarkably low across most countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10192
Pages (from-to)e2210192
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2022


  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Transitional Care


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