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Open Access Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 37(3)

Do people with existing chronic conditions benefit from telephone coaching? A rapid review

Sarah M. Dennis A B, Mark Harris A, Jane Lloyd A, Gawaine Powell Davies A, Nighat Faruqi A and Nicholas Zwar A

A Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia. Emails: m.f.harris@unsw.edu.au; j.lloyd@unsw.edu.au; g.powell-davies@unsw.edu.au; aarfufu@hotmail.com; n.zwar@unsw.edu.au
B Corresponding author. Email: s.dennis@unsw.edu.au

Australian Health Review 37(3) 381-388 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH13005
Submitted: 7 August 2012  Accepted: 29 January 2013   Published: 24 May 2013

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Objective. To examine the effectiveness of telephone-based coaching services for the management of patients with chronic diseases.

Methods. A rapid scoping review of the published peer reviewed literature, using Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsychNet and Scopus. We included studies involving people aged 18 years or over with one or more of the following chronic conditions: type 2 diabetes, congestive cardiac failure, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension. Patients were identified as having multi-morbidity if they had an index chronic condition plus one or more other chronic condition. To be included in this review, the telephone coaching had to involve two-way conversations by telephone or video phone between a patient and a provider. Behaviour change, goal setting and empowerment are essential features of coaching.

Results. The review found 1756 papers, which was reduced to 30 after screening and relevance checks. Most coaching services were planned, as opposed to reactive, and targeted patients with complex needs who had one or more chronic disease. Several studies reported improvements in health behaviour, self-efficacy, health status and satisfaction with the service. More than one-third of the papers targeted vulnerable people and telephone coaching was found to be effective for these people.

Conclusions. Telephone coaching for people with chronic conditions can improve health behaviour, self-efficacy and health status. This is especially true for vulnerable populations who had difficulty accessing health services. There is less evidence for improvements in quality of life and patient satisfaction with the service. The evidence for improvements in health service use was limited. This rapid scoping review found that telephone-based coaching can enhance the management of chronic disease, especially for vulnerable groups. Further work is needed to identify what models of telephone coaching are most effective according to patients’ level of risk and co-morbidity.

What is known about the topic? With the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases more demands are being made of limited health services and resources. Telephone health coaching for people with or at risk of chronic diseases is seen as a means of supporting people to manage their health and reducing the burden on the healthcare system.

What does this paper add? Telephone coaching interventions were effective for vulnerable people with chronic disease(s). Often the vulnerable populations had worse control of their chronic condition at baseline and demonstrated the greatest improvement compared with those with better control at baseline. Planned (i.e. weekly or monthly telephone calls to support the patients with chronic disease) and unscripted telephone coaching interventions appear to be most effective for improving self-management skills in people from vulnerable groups: the planned telephone coaching services had the advantage of regular contact and helping people develop their skills over time, whereas the unscripted aspect allowed the coach to tailor support to the patient’s individual needs

What are the implications for practitioners? Telephone coaching is an effective means of supporting people with chronic diseases to manage their own health. Further work is needed to embed telephone coaching within existing services. Good linkages with the patient’s general practitioner are important. This might be a regular report, updates via the patient e-health record, or provision for contact if a problem is identified or linking to the patient e-health record.


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