Do group visits lower hemoglobin A1C levels in diabetic patients?

Evidence Updates from BMJ Evidence Centre

Reference: Housden L, Wong ST, Dawes M. Effectiveness of group medical visits for improving diabetes care: a systematic review and meta-analysis. CMAJ. 2013 Sep 17;185(13):E635-44. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.130053. Epub 2013 Aug 12. (Review) PMID: 23939218

BACKGROUND: Group medical visits, whereby health care professionals meet with groups of patients who have the same disease, have been introduced in primary care as a way to meet the increasing demand for health care delivery to patients with chronic diseases. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence on the effectiveness of such visits for patients with diabetes.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic review of all relevant studies published from 1947 to February 2012 identified in a search of electronic databases and grey literature. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies published in English that included patients aged 16-80 years with type 1 or 2 diabetes and that had group medical visits as the intervention. These studies were assessed for methodologic quality. We included data only from the RCTs in the meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Of the 94 studies identified, we selected 26 that met our inclusion criteria, 13 of which were RCTs. Group medical visits had a positive effect on clinical and patient-reported outcomes, with significant reductions in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c reduction -0.46%, 95% confidence interval -0.80% to -0.31%). We were unable to assess the effect of group medical visits on processes of care because of an insufficient number of RCTs that reported on this outcome.

INTERPRETATION: Group medical visits for patients with diabetes were found to be effective in terms of reducing HbA1c. The results of our meta-analysis suggest that wider implementation of group medical visits for patients with diabetes will have a positive effect on patient outcomes.

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