Transitional Care Interventions From Hospital to Community to Reduce Health Care Use and Improve Patient Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis

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IMPORTANCE: Discharge from the hospital to the community has been associated with serious patient risks and excess service costs.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the comparative effectiveness associated with transitional care interventions with different complexity levels at improving health care utilization and patient outcomes in the transition from the hospital to the community.

DATA SOURCES: CENTRAL, Embase, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO were searched from inception until August 2022.

STUDY SELECTION: Randomized clinical trials evaluating transitional care interventions from hospitals to the community were identified.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: At least 2 reviewers were involved in all data screening and extraction. Random-effects network meta-analyses and meta-regressions were applied. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were followed.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcomes were readmission at 30, 90, and 180 days after discharge. Secondary outcomes included emergency department visits, mortality, quality of life, patient satisfaction, medication adherence, length of stay, primary care and outpatient visits, and intervention uptake.

RESULTS: Overall, 126 trials with 97 408 participants were included, 86 (68%) of which were of low risk of bias. Low-complexity interventions were associated with the most efficacy for reducing hospital readmissions at 30 days (odds ratio [OR], 0.78; 95% CI, 0.66 to 0.92) and 180 days (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.66) and emergency department visits (OR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.48 to 0.96). Medium-complexity interventions were associated with the most efficacy at reducing hospital readmissions at 90 days (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.92), reducing adverse events (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.24 to 0.75), and improving medication adherence (standardized mean difference [SMD], 0.49; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.67) but were associated with less efficacy than low-complexity interventions for reducing readmissions at 30 and 180 days. High-complexity interventions were most effective for reducing length of hospital stay (SMD, -0.20; 95% CI, -0.38 to -0.03) and increasing patient satisfaction (SMD, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.22 to 0.82) but were least effective for reducing readmissions at all time periods. None of the interventions were associated with improved uptake, quality of life (general, mental, or physical), or primary care and outpatient visits.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings suggest that low- and medium-complexity transitional care interventions were associated with reducing health care utilization for patients transitioning from hospitals to the community. Comprehensive and consistent outcome measures are needed to capture the patient benefits of transitional care interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2344825
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023


  • Humans
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Quality of Life
  • Transitional Care
  • Hospitals
  • Emergency Service, Hospital


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