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Home care workers in heart failure: a systematic review

Authors Sterling MR, Shaw AL, Leung PBK, Safford MM, Jones CD, Tsui EK, Delgado D

Received 28 May 2018

Accepted for publication 26 July 2018

Published 25 September 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 481—492


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Madeline R Sterling,1 Amy L Shaw,2 Peggy BK Leung,1 Monika M Safford,1 Christine D Jones,3 Emma K Tsui,4 Diana Delgado5

1Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA; 2Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA; 3Division of Hospital Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver, CO, USA; 4Department of Community Health and Social Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA; 5Samuel J. Wood Library and C.V. Starr Biomedical Information Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, NY, USA.

Background: Home care workers (HCWs), which include home health aides and personal care aides, are increasingly used by heart failure (HF) patients for post-acute care and long-term assistance. Despite their growing presence, they have largely been left out of HF research and interventions. This systematic review was aimed to 1) describe utilization patterns of HCWs by adults with HF, 2) examine the effect of HCWs on HF outcomes, and 3) review HF interventions that involve HCWs.
Methods: Five electronic databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Cochrane Library [Wiley], CINAHL [EBSCO], and AgeLine [EBSCO]) were searched from inception through August 4, 2017. The yield was screened using prespecified inclusion and exclusion criteria. Two authors independently reviewed references and a third reviewer acted as an arbitrator when needed. Data were extracted from articles that met the inclusion criteria. The Downs and Black checklist was used for quality assessment. Due to study heterogeneity, a narrative synthesis was conducted.
Results: Of the 7,032 studies screened, 13 underwent full-text review, and six met the inclusion criteria. Two descriptive studies found that adults with HF who live alone and have functional and cognitive deficits utilize HCWs. While three retrospective cohort studies examined the association between having an HCW post-HF hospitalization and readmission rates, their findings were conflicting. One quasi-experimental study found that an HCW-delivered educational intervention improved HF patients’ self-care abilities. Overall, despite some significant findings, the studies assessed were of poor-to-fair quality (Downs and Black score range: 10–16 [28 total points]), with most lacking methodological rigor.
Conclusion: Although HCWs are quite common, the literature on these paraprofessionals in HF is limited. Given the paucity of research in this area and the low quality of studies reviewed here, additional research is warranted on the potential role of HCWs in HF self-care and on outcomes among adults with HF.

Keywords: home care workers, congestive heart failure, home health care, systematic review, health services research, quality of care, home health aides

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