Home-based care for reducing morbidity and mortality in people infected with HIV/AIDS

Home-based care (HBC), to promote quality-of-life and limit hospital care, is used in many countries, especially where public health services are overburdened. The objectives of this review was to assess the effects of HBC on morbidity and mortality in those with HIV/AIDS. A comprehensive search for clinical trials of HBC including all forms of treatment, care and support offered in the home was done. Eleven completed and two ongoing studies were identified. Studies were generally small and very few studies were done in developing countries. There was a lack of studies truly looking at the effect of home based care itself or looking at significant end points (death and progression to AIDS). Intensive home-based nursing significantly improved self-reported knowledge of HIV and medications, and self-reported adherence to medication. Another study, comparing proportion of participants with greater than 90% adherence, found statistically significant differences over time but no significant change in CD4 counts and viral loads. A third study found significant differences in HIV stigma, worry and physical functioning but no differences in depressive symptoms, mood, general health, and overall functioning. Comprehensive case management by trans-professional teams compared to usual care by primary care nurses had no significant difference in quality-of-life after 6-months of follow-up and average length of time on service. Home total parenteral nutrition had no significant impact on overall survival and rate of re-hospitalisation. Two trials comparing computers with brochures/nothing/standard medical care found no significant effect on health status, and decision-making confidence and skill, but a reduction in social isolation after controlling for depression. Two trials evaluating home exercise programmes found opposing results. Home-based safe water systems reduced diarrhea frequency and severity among persons with HIV in Africa.

Authors' conclusions: 

Studies were generally small and very few studies were done in developing countries. There was a lack of studies truly looking at the effect of home based care itself or looking at significant end points (death and progression to AIDS). However, the range of interventions and HBC models evaluated can assist in making evidence-based decisions about HIV care and support.

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Background: 

Home-based care (HBC), to promote quality-of-life and limit hospital care, is used in many countries, especially where public health services are overburdened.

Objectives: 

This review assessed the effects of HBC on morbidity and mortality in those with HIV/AIDS.

Search strategy: 

Randomised and controlled clinical trials of HBC including all forms of treatment, care and support offered in the home were included. A highly sensitive search strategy was used to search CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, AIDSearch, CINAHL, PsycINFO/LIT. Risk of bias of all trials was assessed.

Selection criteria: 

All randomised and controlled clinical trials were included of HIV/AIDS positive individuals, adults and children, of any gender, and from any setting. Home-based care, provided by family, lay and/or professional people, including all forms of treatment, care and support offered in the HIV/AIDS positive person's home as compared to hospital or institutional based care

Data collection and analysis: 

Titles, abstracts and descriptor terms of the electronic search results were screened independently by two authors for relevance based on the types of participants, interventions, and study design. Full text articles were obtained of all selected abstracts and an eligibility form was used to determine final study selection. Data extraction and assessment of risk of bias were done independently. Narrative synthesis of results were done. Relevant effect measures and the 95% confidence intervals were reported.

Main results: 

Ten studies randomised individuals and trial sizes varied from n=31 to n=549. One study randomised 392 households and enrolled a total of 509 persons with HIV and 1,521 HIV-negative household members. Two ongoing studies were identified. Intensive home-based nursing significantly improved self-reported knowledge of HIV and medications, self-reported adherence and difference in pharmacy drug refill (1 study). Another study, comparing proportion of participants with greater than 90% adherence, found statistically significant differences over time but no significant change in CD4 counts and viral loads. A third study found significant differences in HIV stigma, worry and physical functioning but no differences in depressive symptoms, mood, general health, and overall functioning. Comprehensive case management by trans-professional teams compared to usual care by primary care nurses had no significant difference in quality-of-life after 6-months of follow-up (n=57) and average length of time on service (n=549). Home total parenteral nutrition had no significant impact on overall survival and rate of re-hospitalisation. Two trials comparing computers with brochures/nothing/standard medical care found no significant effect on health status, and decision-making confidence and skill, but a reduction in social isolation after controlling for depression. Two trials evaluating home exercise programmes found opposing results. Home-based safe water systems reduced diarrhea frequency and severity among persons with HIV in Africa.

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