Readmissions following hospitalisations for cardiovascular disease: a scoping review of the Australian literature

Clementine Labrosciano, Tracy Air, Rosanna Tavella, John F Beltrame, Isuru Ranasinghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective International studies suggest high rates of readmissions after cardiovascular hospitalisations, but the burden in Australia is uncertain. We summarised the characteristics, frequency, risk factors of readmissions and interventions to reduce readmissions following cardiovascular hospitalisation in Australia. Methods A scoping review of the published literature from 2000-2016 was performed using Medline, EMBASE and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases and relevant grey literature. Results We identified 35 studies (25 observational, 10 reporting outcomes of interventions). Observational studies were typically single-centre (11/25) and reported readmissions following hospitalisations for heart failure (HF; 10/25), acute coronary syndrome (7/25) and stroke (6/25), with other conditions infrequently reported. The definition of a readmission was heterogeneous and was assessed using diverse methods. Readmission rate, most commonly reported at 1 month (14/25), varied from 6.3% to 27%, with readmission rates of 10.1-27% for HF, 6.5-11% for stroke and 12.7-17% for acute myocardial infarction, with a high degree of heterogeneity among studies. Of the 10 studies of interventions to reduce readmissions, most (n=8) evaluated HF management programs and three reported a significant reduction in readmissions. We identified a lack of national studies of readmissions and those assessing the cost and resource impact of readmissions on the healthcare system as well as a paucity of successful interventions to lower readmissions. Conclusions High rates of readmissions are reported for cardiovascular conditions, although substantial methodological heterogeneity exists among studies. Nationally standardised definitions are required to accurately measure readmissions and further studies are needed to address knowledge gaps and test interventions to lower readmissions in Australia. What is known about the topic? International studies suggest readmissions are common following cardiovascular hospitalisations and are costly to the health system, yet little is known about the burden of readmission in the Australian setting or the effectiveness of intervention to reduce readmissions. What does this paper add? We found relatively high rates of readmissions following common cardiovascular conditions although studies differed in their methodology making it difficult to accurately gauge the readmission rate. We also found several knowledge gaps including lack of national studies, studies assessing the impact on the health system and few interventions proven to reduce readmissions in the Australian setting. What are the implications for practitioners? Practitioners should be cautious when interpreting studies of readmissions due the heterogeneity in definitions and methods used in Australian literature. Further studies are needed to test interventions to reduce readmissions in the Australians setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian health review : a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Feb 2020

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