Measures for the integration of health and social care services for long-term health conditions: a systematic review of reviews.
Kelly L., Harlock J., Peters M., Fitzpatrick R., Crocker H.
BACKGROUND: As people are living longer with higher incidences of long-term health conditions, there is a move towards greater integration of care, including integration of health and social care services. Integrated care needs to be comprehensively and systematically evaluated if it is to be implemented widely. We performed a systematic review of reviews to identify measures which have been used to assess integrated care across health and social care services for people living with long-term health conditions. METHODS: Four electronic databases (PUBMED; MEDLINE; EMBASE; Cochrane library of systematic reviews) were searched in August 2018 for relevant reviews evaluating the integration of health and social care between 1998 and 2018. Articles were assessed according to apriori eligibility criteria. A data extraction form was utilised to collate the identified measures into five categories. RESULTS: Of the 18 articles included, system outcomes and process measures were most frequently identified (15 articles each). Patient or carer reported outcomes were identified in 13 articles while health outcomes were reported in 12 articles. Structural measures were reported in nine articles. Challenges to measuring integration included the identification of a wide range of potential impacts of integration, difficulties in comparing findings due to differences in study design and heterogeneity of types of outcomes, and a need for appropriate, robust measurement tools. CONCLUSIONS: Our review revealed no shortage of measures for assessing the structures, processes and outcomes of integrated care. The very large number of available measures and infrequent use of any common set make comparisons between schemes more difficult. The promotion of core measurement sets and stakeholder consultation would advance measurement in this area.