RCT: In patients discharged after hospitalization for heart failure, patient-centered transitional care services did not improve clinical outcomes.
Van Spall HGC, Lee SF, Xie F, et al. Effect of Patient-Centered Transitional Care Services on Clinical Outcomes in Patients Hospitalized for Heart Failure: The PACT-HF Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019 Feb 26;321(8):753-761. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.0710.

Importance: Health care services that support the hospital-to-home transition can improve outcomes in patients with heart failure (HF).

Objective: To test the effectiveness of the Patient-Centered Care Transitions in HF transitional care model in patients hospitalized for HF.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial of 2494 adults hospitalized for HF across 10 hospitals in Ontario, Canada, from February 2015 to March 2016, with follow-up until November 2016.

Interventions: Hospitals were randomized to receive the intervention (n = 1104 patients), in which nurse-led self-care education, a structured hospital discharge summary, a family physician follow-up appointment less than 1 week after discharge, and, for high-risk patients, structured nurse homevisits and heart function clinic care were provided to patients, or usual care (n = 1390 patients), in which transitional care was left to the discretion of clinicians.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were hierarchically ordered as composite all-cause readmission, emergency department (ED) visit, or death at 3 months; and composite all-cause readmission or ED visit at 30 days. Secondary outcomes were B-PREPARED score for discharge preparedness (range: 0 [most prepared] to 22 [least prepared]); the 3-Item Care Transitions Measure (CTM-3) for quality of transition (range: 0 [worst transition] to 100 [best transition]); the 5-level EQ-5D version (EQ-5D-5L) for quality of life (range: 0 [dead] to 1 [full health]); and quality-adjusted life-years (QALY; range: 0 [dead] to 0.5 [full health at 6 months]).

Results: Among eligible patients, all 2494 (mean age, 77.7 years; 1258 [50.4%] women) completed the trial. There was no significant difference between the intervention and usual care groups in the first primary composite outcome (545 [49.4%] vs 698 [50.2%] events, respectively; hazard ratio [HR], 0.99 [95% CI, 0.83-1.19]) or in the second primary composite outcome (304 [27.5%] vs 408 [29.3%] events, respectively; HR, 0.93 [95% CI, 0.73-1.18]). There were significant differences between the intervention and usual care groups in the secondary outcomes of mean B-PREPARED score at 6 weeks (16.6 vs 13.9; difference, 2.65 [95% CI, 1.37-3.92]; P < .001); mean CTM-3 score at 6 weeks (76.5 vs 70.3; difference, 6.16 [95% CI, 0.90-11.43]; P = .02); and mean EQ-5D-5L score at 6 weeks (0.7 vs 0.7; difference, 0.06 [95% CI, 0.01 to 0.11]; P = .02) and 6 months (0.7 vs 0.6; difference, 0.06 [95% CI, 0.01-0.12]; P = .02). There was no significant difference in mean QALY between groups at 6 months (0.3 vs 0.3; difference, 0.00 [95% CI, -0.02 to 0.02]; P = .98).

Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients with HF in Ontario, Canada, implementation of a patient-centered transitional care model compared with usual care did not improve a composite of clinical outcomes. Whether this type of intervention could be effective in other health care systems or locations would require further research.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02112227.

Specialty Area Score
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
Comments from MORE raters


There is an interesting comparison in HD patients. Sometimes, good standard care is the best care. At least, all health care systems should achieve it.

Science is sometimes frustrating, which is a strong reason to keep doing science (I would say unbiased science, but this biased science is not science). This trial was exemplary in its design. It addressed a relevant issue and provided negative but relevant findings for clinical practice.

Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists

This is an important study that highlights the difficulties with implementing prior work on readmission prevention and transition of care studies. It remains unclear if the failure to demonstrate improvement is due to pre-existing near-optimal performance, contamination, or incorporation of many "best practices" into the usual standard of care, or if there are fundamental difficulties in preventing readmission that have yet to be solved in the existing literature. Further work in this field will be needed to better answer these questions.

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