What Is the Strength of Evidence for Heart Failure Disease-Management Programs?

Alexander M. Clark, Lori A. Savard, David R. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Heart failure (HF) disease-management programs are increasingly common. However, some large and recent trials of programs have not reported positive findings. There have also been parallel recent advances in reporting standards and theory around complex nonpharmacological interventions. These developments compel reconsideration in this Viewpoint of how research into HF-management programs should be evaluated, the quality, specificity, and usefulness of this evidence, and the recommendations for future research. Addressing the main determinants of intervention effectiveness by using the PICO (Patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome) approach and the recent CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) statement on nonpharmacological trials, we will argue that in both current trials and meta-analyses, interventions and comparisons are not sufficiently well described; that complex programs have been excessively oversimplified; and that potentially salient differences in programs, populations, and settings are not incorporated into analyses. In preference to more general meta-analyses of programs, adequate descriptions are first needed of populations, interventions, comparisons, and outcomes in past and future trials. This could be achieved via a systematic survey of study authors based on the CONSORT statement. These more detailed data on studies should be incorporated into future meta-analyses of comparable trials and used with other techniques such as patient-based outcomes data and meta-regression. Although trials and meta-analyses continue to have potential to generate useful evidence, a more specific evidence base is needed to support the development of effective programs for different populations and settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-401
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul. 2009


  • CHF
  • chronic
  • disease management
  • health promotion
  • self care


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