Beyond forest plots: Clinical gestalt and its influence on COPD telemonitoring studies and outcomes review

Sheree M. Smith, Anne E. Holland, Christine F. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive chronic condition. Improvements in therapies have resulted in better patient outcomes. The use of technology such as telemonitoring as an additional intervention is aimed at enhancing care and reducing unnecessary acute hospital service use. The influence of verbal communication between health staff and patients to inform decision making regarding use of acute hospital services within telemonitoring studies has not been assessed. Method A systematic overview of published systematic reviews of COPD and telemonitoring was conducted using an a priori protocol to ascertain the impact of verbal communication in telemonitoring studies on health service outcomes such as emergency department attendances, hospitalisation and hospital length of stay. The search of the following electronic databases: Cochrane Library, Medline, Pubmed, CINAHL, Embase, TROVE, Australian Digital Thesis and Proquest International Dissertations and Theses was conducted in 2017 and updated in September 2019. Results Six systematic reviews were identified. All reviews involved home monitoring of COPD symptoms and biometric data. Included reviews reported 5-28 studies with sample sizes ranging from 310 to 2891 participants. Many studies reported in the systematic reviews were excluded as they were telephone support, cost effectiveness studies, and/or did not report the outcomes of interest for this overview. Irrespective of group assignment, verbal communication with the health or research team did not alter the emergency attendance or hospitalisation outcome. The length of stay was longer for those who were assigned home telemonitoring in the majority of studies. Conclusion This overview of telemonitoring for COPD had small sample sizes and a wide variety of included studies. Communication was not consistent in all included studies. Understanding the context of communication with study participants and the decision-making process for referring patients to various health services needs to be reported in future studies of telemonitoring and COPD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere030779
Number of pages13
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2019


  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • emergency care
  • health technology
  • length of stay
  • telemonitoring

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