Effect of seasonal variation on clinical outcome in patients with chronic conditions: Analysis of the commonwealth scientific and industrial research organization (csiro) national telehealth trial

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2018, 20 (3)
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©Ahmadreza Argha, Andrey Savkin, Siaw-Teng Liaw, Branko George Celler. Background: Seasonal variation has an impact on the hospitalization rate of patients with a range of cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and angina. This paper presents findings on the influence of seasonal variation on the results of a recently completed national trial of home telemonitoring of patients with chronic conditions, carried out at five locations along the east coast of Australia. Objective: The aim is to evaluate the effect of the seasonal timing of hospital admission and length of stay on clinical outcome of a home telemonitoring trial involving patients (age: mean 72.2, SD 9.4 years) with chronic conditions (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease coronary artery disease, hypertensive diseases, congestive heart failure, diabetes, or asthma) and to explore methods of minimizing the influence of seasonal variations in the analysis of the effect of at-home telemonitoring on the number of hospital admissions and length of stay (LOS). Methods: Patients were selected from a hospital list of eligible patients living with a range of chronic conditions. Each test patient was case matched with at least one control patient. A total of 114 test patients and 173 control patients were available in this trial. However, of the 287 patients, we only considered patients who had one or more admissions in the years from 2010 to 2012. Three different groups were analyzed separately because of substantially different climates: (1) Queensland, (2) Australian Capital Territory and Victoria, and (3) Tasmania. Time series data were analyzed using linear regression for a period of 3 years before the intervention to obtain an average seasonal variation pattern. A novel method that can reduce the impact of seasonal variation on the rate of hospitalization and LOS was used in the analysis of the outcome variables of the at-home telemonitoring trial. Results: Test patients were monitored for a mean 481 (SD 77) days with 87% (53/61) of patients monitored for more than 12 months. Trends in seasonal variations were obtained from 3 years’ of hospitalization data before intervention for the Queensland, Tasmania, and Australian Capital Territory and Victoria subgroups, respectively. The maximum deviation from baseline trends for LOS was 101.7% (SD 42.2%), 60.6% (SD 36.4%), and 158.3% (SD 68.1%). However, by synchronizing outcomes to the start date of intervention, the impact of seasonal variations was minimized to a maximum of 9.5% (SD 7.7%), thus improving the accuracy of the clinical outcomes reported. Conclusions: Seasonal variations have a significant effect on the rate of hospital admission and LOS in patients with chronic conditions. However, the impact of seasonal variation on clinical outcomes (rate of admissions, number of hospital admissions, and LOS) of at-home telemonitoring can be attenuated by synchronizing the analysis of outcomes to the commencement dates for the telemonitoring of vital signs. Trial Registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12613000635763; https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=364030&isReview=true (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/ 6xLPv9QDb)
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