Paediatric home care: a systematic review of randomized trials on costs and effectiveness.
OBJECTIVE: To review systematically randomized trials (RCTs) on the effectiveness and costs of paediatric home care. METHODS: National Health Service (NHS) Centre for Reviews and Dissemination guidelines were followed. In all, 20 electronic and other sources were searched, using specially designed strategies. Economic studies and other selected designs were included, but only RCT findings--on service use, clinical outcomes, costs, and impact on the family--are reported here. Analysis is descriptive, with pooled standard mean differences used where meta-analysis was possible. RESULTS: About 1730 identified records up to August 2001 were potentially relevant. In all, 10 RCTs (24 papers) were finally included, covering five types of paediatric home care--for very low birth weight or medically 'fragile' infants, for asthma or diabetes, for technology-dependent children, for mental health, and generic home care. Paediatric home care may enhance physical and mental development for very low birth weight infants and may be cheaper but the evidence is not strong. Home care for diabetes or asthma may reduce parents' costs with some clinical but no social differences noticeable. No randomized trials for technologically dependent children were found. Home care for mental health may increase parental satisfaction with services and reduce some health service and residential care costs. Generic home care showed no clinical effects at early follow-up. Partial follow-up after five years suggested improved psychological adjustment. No cost data were available for this care model. CONCLUSIONS: Despite recent expansion, research evidence from randomized trials for paediatric home care is slight, and methods used are weak in places. Paediatric home care poses practical and ethical questions that cannot be addressed by RCTs.
Parker, G; Bhakta, P; Lovett, C; Olsen, R; Paisley, S; Turner, D
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