Lawton K, Royals K, Carson-Chahhoud KV, et al. Nurse-led versus doctor-led care for bronchiectasis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Jun 20;6:CD004359. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004359.pub2. (Systematic review)

BACKGROUND: Specialist nursing roles to manage stable disease populations are being used to meet the needs of both patients and health services. With increasing cost pressures on health departments, alternative models such as nurse-led care are gaining momentum as a substitute for traditional doctor-led care. This review evaluates the safety, effectiveness, and health outcomes of nurses practising in autonomous roles while using advanced practice skills, within the context of bronchiectasis management in subacute, ambulatory, and/or community care.

OBJECTIVES: To compare the effectiveness of nurse-led care versus doctor-led care in the management of stable bronchiectasis.

SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Specialised Register and bibliographies of selected papers in addition to grey literature such as electronic clinical trials registries. Searches were current as of March 2018.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in the review.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers extracted and entered data from included studies. Primary outcomes were numbers of exacerbations requiring treatment with antibiotics, hospital admissions, and emergency department attendances.

MAIN RESULTS: We included one United Kingdom (UK) study in the review. In this randomised controlled trial, a total of 80 participants, with a mean age of 58 years, were treated for 12 months by a specialist nurse or doctor, then were crossed over to the other clinician for the next 12 months. Two participants died during the study period. Six participants failed to cross over to nurse-led care because of unstable bronchiectasis. Overall, the level of study completion was high.Data show no difference in the numbers of exacerbations requiring treatment with antibiotics (rate ratio 1.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.91 to 1.30, 80 participants, moderate-certainty evidence). Investigators reported more hospital admissions in the nurse-led care group (rate ratio 1.52, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.23, 80 participants, moderate-certainty evidence) and did not report emergency department attendance.For secondary outcomes, participants in the nurse-led care group used more healthcare resources during the first year of the trial. Increased admissions and greater use of resources made treatment costs for nurse-led groups' higher. Total costs for both years of the study were £8,464 and £5,228 for nurse-led care compared with doctor-led care. However, by the second year, treatment costs were almost equitable between the two groups, which may reflect the nurses' learning of how to better treat people with bronchiectasis. No statistically significant changes were observed in quality of life, exercise capacity, mortality, or lung function. Wide confidence intervals led to uncertainty regarding these results. Adverse events were not an outcome for this review.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: This update of the review shows that only one trial met review criteria. Review authors were unable to demonstrate effectiveness of nurse-led care compared with doctor-led care on the basis of findings of a single study. The included study reported no significant differences, but limited evidence means that differences in clinical outcomes between nurse-led care and usual care within the setting of a specialist clinic remain unclear. Further research is required to determine whether nurse-led care is cost-effective, if guidelines and protocols for bronchiectasis management are followed does this increases costs and how effective nurse-led management of bronchiectasis is in other clinical settings such as inpatient and outreach.

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Discipline Area Score
Physician 4 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Physician rater

Puzzling: this nurse-led systematic review and meta-analysis of a single paper (!) just leads to slightly different conclusions than the paper itself, curbed in a direction apparently more profitable to the case of nurse-led care.

Physician rater

Another useless meta-analysis.
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