Patient Care

Interventions Effective in Preventing Hospital Readmissions


Clinical question: Which interventions are most effective to prevent 30-day readmissions in medical or surgical patients?

Background: Preventing early readmissions has become a national priority. This study set out to determine which intervention had the largest impact on the prevention of early readmission.

Study design: Meta-analysis.

Setting: Forty-seven studies in multiple locations.

Synopsis: This study evaluated 47 randomized trials that assessed the effectiveness of peri-discharge interventions on the risk of all-cause or unplanned 30-day readmissions for medical and surgical patients. Outcomes included unplanned readmissions, all-cause readmissions, and a composite of unplanned and all-cause readmissions plus out-of-hospital deaths.

The included studies reported up to seven methods of preventing readmissions, including involvement of case management, home visits, education of patients, and self-care support. In 42 trials reporting readmission rates, the pooled relative risk of readmission was 0.82 (95 % CI, 0.73-0.91; P<0.001) within 30 days.

Multiple subgroup analyses noted that the most effective interventions on hospital readmission were those that were more complex and those that sought to augment patient capacity to access and enact dependable post-discharge care.

Limitations included single-center academic studies, lack of standard for dealing with missing data, existence of publication bias, and differing methods used to evaluate intervention effects.

Bottom line: This study was the largest of its kind, to date, and suggests that the interventions analyzed in this study, although complex (e.g. enhancing capacity for self-care at home), were efficacious in reducing 30-day readmissions.

Citation: Leppin AL, Gionfriddo MR, Kessler M, et al. Preventing 30-day hospital readmissions: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(7):1095-1107.

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