Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion. The follow-up period ranged from 3 to 12 months.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies evaluating a patient education intervention directed at increasing the patients' knowledge of their heart failure diagnosis, signs, symptoms, and/or treatment, and delivered by a multidisciplinary team, were eligible for inclusion. The studies had to compare the intervention group with a group receiving usual care delivered by a family physician, internist, or cardiologist. The included studies assessed educational visits by various health professionals before discharge, videos, booklets plus home visits, telephone assessments, mailed information and out-patient visits after discharge.
Participants included in the review
Studies of adult patients (aged over 18 years) who were hospitalised for heart failure, and who were enrolled in the study either during their hospitalisation or immediately before or after discharge, were eligible for inclusion.
Outcomes assessed in the review
The studies needed to report unplanned readmissions for heart failure for all causes in a follow-up period of at least 3 months to be eligible for inclusion. The secondary outcomes specified were mortality, compliance and quality of life. The included studies used different disease-specific instruments to measure quality of life.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers screened the title and abstracts of identified studies. Four reviewers independently assessed the full paper copies of potentially relevant studies, and any disagreements were resolved through discussion.