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Health education for patients with acute coronary syndrome and type 2 diabetes mellitus: an umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  1. Xian-liang Liu1,2,3,
  2. Yan Shi1,
  3. Karen Willis4,
  4. Chiung-Jung (Jo) Wu5,6,7,8,
  5. Maree Johnson9,10
  1. 1Tenth People’s Hospital, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
  2. 2School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
  3. 3School of Nursing, Jinggangshan University, Ji’An, China
  4. 4Melbourne Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
  6. 6School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia
  7. 7Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), Australia
  8. 8Mater Medical Research Institute-University of Queensland (MMRI-UQ), Australia
  9. 9Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, North Sydney, NSW, Australia
  10. 10Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Xian-liang Liu; liu.xianliang{at}myacu.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives This umbrella review aimed to identify the current evidence on health education-related interventions for patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM); identify the educational content, delivery methods, intensity, duration and setting required. The purpose was to provide recommendations for educational interventions for high-risk patients with both ACS and T2DM.

Design Umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Setting Inpatient and postdischarge settings.

Participants Patients with ACS and T2DM.

Data sources CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Joanna Briggs Institute, Journals@Ovid, EMBase, Medline, PubMed and Web of Science databases from January 2000 through May 2016.

Outcomes measures Clinical outcomes (such as glycated haemoglobin), behavioural outcomes (such as smoking), psychosocial outcomes (such as anxiety) and medical service use.

Results Fifty-one eligible reviews (15 for ACS and 36 for T2DM) consisting of 1324 relevant studies involving 2 88 057 patients (15 papers did not provide the total sample); 30 (58.8%) reviews were rated as high quality. Nurses only and multidisciplinary teams were the most frequent professionals to provide education, and most educational interventions were delivered postdischarge. Face-to-face sessions were the most common delivery formats, and many education sessions were also delivered by telephone or via web contact. The frequency of educational sessions was weekly or monthly, and an average of 3.7 topics was covered per education session. Psychoeducational interventions were generally effective at reducing smoking and admissions for patients with ACS. Culturally appropriate health education, self-management educational interventions, group medical visits and psychoeducational interventions were generally effective for patients with T2DM.

Conclusions Results indicate that there is a body of current evidence about the efficacy of health education, its content and delivery methods for patients with ACS or T2DM. These results provide recommendations about the content for, and approach to, health education intervention for these high-risk patients.

  • health education
  • acute coronary syndrome
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • umbrella review

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Strengths and limitations of this study

  • This umbrella review is the first synthesis of systematic reviews or meta-analyses to consider health education-related interventions for patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) or type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM).

  • These results provide recommendations about the content of a health education intervention for patients with ACS and T2DM.

  • The diversity of the educational interventions seen in the reviews included in this umbrella review may reflect the uncertainty about the optimal strategy for providing health education to patients.

  • This umbrella review found no reviews focused on patients with ACS and T2DM—the intended target group; instead, all of the systematic reviews and meta-analyses focused on only one of these two diseases.

Introduction

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is the leading cause of death worldwide. The risk of high mortality rates relating to ACS is markedly increased after an initial cardiac ischaemic event.1 Globally, 7.2 million (13%) deaths are caused by coronary artery disease (CAD),2 and it is estimated that >7 80 000 persons will experience ACS each year in the USA.3 Moreover, about 20%–25% of patients with ACS reportedly also have diabetes mellitus (DM); predominantly type two diabetes mellitus (T2DM)).4 5 Patients with ACS and DM have an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as death, recurrent myocardial infarction (MI), readmission or heart failure during follow-up.6 Longer median delay times from symptom onset to hospital presentation, have been reported among patients with ACS and DM than patients with ACS alone.7

DM is now considered to confer a risk equivalent to that of CAD for patients for future MI and cardiovascular mortality.8 Mortality was significantly higher among patients with ACS and DM than among patients with ACS only following either ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) (8.5% (ACS and DM) vs 5.4% (ACS)) or unstable angina/non-STEMI (NSTEMI) (2.1% (ACS and DM) vs 1.1% (ACS)).9 ACS and T2DM are often associated with high-risk factors such as low levels of physical exercise, obesity, smoking and unhealthy diet.10 Some of these and other risk factors, specifically glycaemia, high blood pressure (BP), lipidaemia and obesity, are frequently addressed by health education interventions.10

Health education interventions are comprehensive programmes that healthcare providers deliver to patients aimed at improving patients’ clinical outcomes through the increase and maintenance of health behaviours.11 Along with education about, for example, medication taking, these programmes seek to increase behaviours such as physical exercise and a healthy diet thus reducing patient morbidity or mortality.11 Most diabetes education is provided through programmes within outpatient services or physicians’ practices.12 Many recent education programmes have been designed to meet national or international education standards13–15 with diabetes education being individualised to consider patients’ existing needs and health conditions.16 Patients with T2DM have reported feelings of hopelessness and fatigue with low levels of self-efficacy, after experiencing an acute coronary episode.17

Although there are numerous systematic reviews of educational interventions relating to ACS or T2DM, an umbrella review providing direction on educational interventions for high-risk patients with both ACS and T2DM is not available, indicating a need to gather the current evidence and develop an optimal protocol for health education programmes for patients with ACS and T2DM. This umbrella review will examine the best available evidence on health education-related interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM. We will synthesise these findings to provide direction for health education-related interventions for high-risk patients with both ACS and T2DM.

An umbrella review is a new method to summarise and synthesise the evidence from multiple systematic reviews/meta-analyses into one accessible publication.18 Our aim is to systematically gather, evaluate and organise the current evidence relating the health education interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM, and proffer recommendations for the scope of educational content and delivery methods that would be suitable for patients with ACS and T2DM.

Methods

Data sources

This umbrella review performed a literature search to identify systematic reviews and meta-analyses examining health education-related interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM. The search strategies are described in online supplementary appendix 1. This umbrella review searched eight databases for articles published from January 2000 to May 2016: CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Joanna Briggs Institute, Journals@Ovid, EMBase, Medline, PubMed and Web of Science. The search was limited to English language only. The following broad MeSH terms were used: acute coronary syndrome; angina, unstable; angina pectoris; coronary artery disease; coronary artery bypass; myocardial infarction; diabetes mellitus, type two; counseling; health education; patient education as topic; meta-analysis (publication type); and meta-analysis as a topic.

Supplementary Material

Supplementary appendix 1

Inclusion criteria

Participants

All participants were diagnosed with ACS or T2DM using valid, established diagnostic criteria. The diagnostic standards included those described by the American College of Cardiology or American Heart Association,3 National Heart Foundation of Australia and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand,19 WHO20 or other associations.

Intervention types

For this umbrella review, health education-related interventions refer to any planned activities or programmes that include behaviour modification, counselling and teaching interventions. Results considered for this review included changes in clinical outcomes (including BP levels, body weight, diabetes complications, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), lipid levels, mortality rate and physical activity levels), behavioural outcomes (such as diet, knowledge, self-management skills, self-efficacy and smoking), psychosocial outcomes (such as anxiety, depression, quality of life and stress) and medical service use (such as medication use, healthcare utilisation and cost-effectiveness) for patients with ACS or T2DM. These activities or programmes included any educational interventions delivered to patients with ACS or T2DM. The interventions are delivered in any format, including face-to-face, telephone and group-based or one-on-one, and the settings include community, hospital and home. The interventions were delivered by nurses (including diabetes nurse educators), physicians, community healthcare workers, dietitians, lay people, rehabilitation therapists or multidisciplinary teams.

Study types

Only systematic reviews and meta-analyses were included in this review.

Eligibility assessment

The title and abstract of all of the retrieved articles were assessed independently by two reviewers (XL-L, YS) based on the inclusion criteria. All duplicate articles were identified within EndNote V.X721 and subsequently excluded. If the information from the titles and abstract was not clear, the full articles were retrieved. The decision to include an article was based on an appraisal of the full text of all retrieved articles. Any disagreements during this process were settled by discussion and, if necessary, consensus was sought with a third reviewer. We developed an assessment form in which specific reasons for exclusion were detailed.

Assessment of methodological quality

The methodological quality and risk of bias were assessed for each of the included publications using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR),22 independently by the same two reviewers (see table 1). The AMSTAR is an 11-item tool, with each item provided a score of 1 (specific criterion is met) or 0 (specific criterion is not met, unclear or not applicable).22 23 An overall score for the review methodological quality is then calculated as the sum of the individual item scores: high quality, 8–11; medium quality, 4–7 or low quality, 0–3.23 If the required data were not available in the article, the original authors were contacted for more information. The low quality reviews (AMSTAR scale: 0–3) were excluded in this umbrella review.

Table 1

Methodological quality assessment of included systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Data extraction

Data were independently extracted by two reviewers using a predefined data extraction form. For missing or unclear information, the primary authors were contacted for clarification.

Statistical presentation of results from reviews

All of the results were extracted for each included systematic review or meta-analysis, and the overall effect estimates are presented in a tabular form. The number of systematic reviews or meta-analyses that reported the outcome, total sample (from included publications) and information of health education interventions is also presented in tables 2 and 3.24 A final ‘summary of evidence’ was developed to present the intervention, included study synthesis, and indication of the findings from the included papers (table 4).24 This umbrella review calculated the corrected covered area (CCA) (see online supplementary appendices 2 and 3). The CCA statistic is a measure of overlap of trials (the repeated inclusion of the same trial in subsequent systematic reviews included in an umbrella systematic review). A detailed description of the calculation is provided by the authors who note slight CCA as 0%–5%, moderate CCA as 6%–10%, high CCA as 11%–15% and very high CCA is >15%.25 The lower the CCA the lower the likelihood of overlap of trials included in the umbrella review.

Table 2

Characteristics and interventions of included systematic reviews and meta-analysis involved patients with ACS

Table 3

Characteristics and interventions of included systematic reviews and meta-analysis involved patients with T2DM

Table 4

Summary of evidence from quantitative research syntheses

Synthesising the results and rating the evidence for effectiveness

The statements of evidence were based on a rating scheme to gather and rate the evidence across the included publications.26 The statements of evidence were based on the following rating scheme: sufficient evidence, sufficient data to support decisions about the effect of the health education-related interventions.26 A rating of sufficient evidence in this review is obtained when systematic reviews or meta-analyses with a large number of included articles or participants produce a statistically significant result between the health education group and the control group.26 Some evidence, is a less conclusive finding about the effects of the health education-related interventions26 with statistically significant findings found in only a few included reviews or studies. Insufficient evidence, refers to not enough evidence to make decisions about the effects of the health education-related interventions, such as non-significant results between the health education group and the control group in the included systematic reviews or meta-analyses.26 Insufficient evidence to determine, refers to not enough pooled data to be able to determine whether of the health education-related interventions are effective or not based on the included reviews.26

Results

Characteristics of included reviews

The selection process and number of studies at each step was illustrated as presented in figure 1. The database search yielded 692 publications, with removal of 197 duplicates and 371 articles that did not meet the inclusion criteria, 124 full-text articles were retrieved after applying the methodological quality rating (AMSTAR scale), and three studies27–29 were removed due to low scores ≤3 on the AMSTAR scale. Fifty-one systematic reviews or meta-analyses30–80 conducted between 2001 and 2016 and published in English were included (figure 1; tables 1–3); 15 relating to ACS. The overlap of the trials included in the 15 reviews and meta-analyses related to ACS was slight (CCA=2.6%). For the 36 systematic reviews relating to T2DM, the overlap of trials within these 35 reviews and meta-analyses (one review47 did not report the included studies) was slight (CCA=2.1%). None of the articles included patients with both ACS and T2DM. The umbrella review involved a total of 2 77 493 patients, including 2 25 034 patients with coronary heart disease or ACS (one article did not report the total sample) and 52 459 patients with T2DM (16 papers did not report the total sample). The average sample size of included articles was 8161 (range, 536–68 556) participants, however, 63 studies related to ACS and 177 studies related to T2DM were included in more than one systematic review or meta-analysis (see online supplementary appendices 2 and 3 and CCA statistics). The sample of these studies would therefore be included more than once. Of the included systematic reviews or meta-analyses, 11 were published in The Cochrane Library. Nine of the articles described meta-analyses, 29 articles described systematic reviews and the remaining 13 articles were described as systematic reviews and meta-analyses or meta-regressions or narrative reviews.

Figure 1

Flow chart of the systematic reviews and meta-analyses selection process.

Electronic database searches were conducted for all systematic reviews or meta-analyses, with an average of 6 databases searched (range, 2–16). The dates searched ranged widely from inception of the database through December 2014. Most of the included reviews were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), and an average of 25.6 (range, 7–132) studies was included per systematic review or meta-analyses. Of the total, 818 unique (non-repeated) studies were included in all of the reviews or meta-analyses, 286 included patients with ACS and 532 included patients with T2DM (see online supplementary appendix 2 and 3). The included reviews assessed the risk of bias using the Cochrane risk of bias tool (22 publications), JADA quality score (7 publications), Joanna Briggs quality assessment tool (2 publications), PEDro scale (1 publication), RCT Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (1 publication) and the SIGN-50 checklist (1 publication).

Methodological quality of included systematic reviews and meta-analyses

The methodological quality of the included publications is presented in table 1. Thirty (58.8%) publications were classified as high quality (scores 8–11) and 21 (41.2%) publications were classified as medium quality (scores 4–7). Twenty-five (49%) reviews specifically provided an a priori design, while the use of such a design was unclear for 26 (51%) publications. The inclusion of other forms of literature (such as grey literature) was described in 18 (35%) reviews. Only 14 out of 51 (27%) reviews included a table of included and excluded studies. Only two (4%) reviews did not provide a characteristics table of the included papers. The scientific quality of the included papers was evaluated and documented in 47 (92%) reviews. The scientific quality of the included studies was used appropriately to formulate conclusions in 47 (92%) reviews. The methods to combine the results of the included studies were appropriate in 43 (86%) reviews. Publication bias was assessed in only 19 (37%) reviews. Finally, conflicts of interest were reported in 47 (92%) reviews.

Characteristics of health educational interventions

The description of the health educational interventions followed the Workgroup for Intervention Development and Evaluation Research reporting guidelines for behaviour change interventions.81 The characteristics of the recipients, setting, delivery methods, intensity, duration and educational content of health educational interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM are summarised in tables 2 and 3. The delivery strategies for health education included face-to-face, internet-based, phone-based, videotape, written educational materials or mixed. The format included one-on-one (individualised), group or both. Face-to-face sessions were the most common delivery formats, and many education sessions were also delivered by telephone/web contact or individualised counselling. The number of sessions, total contact hours and durations varied, and there was limited information about the intensity of health education for patients provided. The frequency of educational sessions was weekly or monthly, and an average of 3.7 topics was covered per education session. Nurses and multidisciplinary teams were the most frequent educators, and most education programmes were delivered postdischarge.

Acute coronary syndrome

The educational content for patients with ACS covered cardiovascular risk factors in eight reviews (53.33%), psychosocial issues in eight reviews (53.33%), smoking cessation in six reviews (40.00%), exercise in five reviews (33.33%), behavioural change in five reviews (33.33%), diet in four reviews (26.67%), self-management in three reviews (20.00%) and medication in one review (6.67%). Two reviews only included smoking cessation and cardiovascular risk factors. The most common educational providers were nurses and a multidisciplinary team. Six studies31 36 48 51 56 69 (6/15, 40%) described the theoretical approach that underpinned the education intervention.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus

The educational content for patients with T2DM included diet in 23 reviews (63.89%), behavioural change in 21 reviews (58.33%), self-management in 20 reviews (55.56%), exercise in 17 reviews (47.22%), glycaemic regulation in 16 reviews (44.45%), medication in 13 reviews (36.11%), psychosocial issues in 9 reviews (25.00%), smoking cessation in 2 reviews (5.56%), cardiovascular risk factors in 2 reviews (5.56%) and DM risks in 1 review (2.78%). The most common providers were dieticians, nurses and a multidisciplinary team. The number of sessions, total contact hours and durations varied. Thirteen reviews30 33 43 49 52–54 60 64 67 75–77 (13/36, 36.11%) described the theoretical approach that underpinned the education intervention.

Effect of interventions

The outcomes of the included systematic reviews and meta-analyses are summarised in table 4.

Patients with ACS

Three major types of health education-related interventions were used for patients with ACS: general health education (only included general health information), psychoeducational interventions and secondary prevention educational interventions (including strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle, manage medications and reduce cardiovascular complications) as well as internet-based interventions.

General health education

The findings are based on our synthesis of the findings from six systematic reviews.37 48 50 51 59 70 Overall, there were mixed effects of general health education on behavioural change or clinical outcomes in patients with ACS. There was some evidence of a positive effect of general health education on knowledge, behaviour, psychosocial indicators, beliefs and risk factor modification, but no effects for key clinical outcomes, such as cholesterol level, hospitalisation, mortality, MI and revascularisation. The results for health-related quality of life, healthcare utilisation and costs were mixed; several reviews reported a significant change, and other reviews reported no significant change for these outcomes. Only one review focused on telephone-based health education. There is some evidence that telephone-based health education during cardiac rehabilitation might improve all-cause hospitalisation, anxiety, depression, smoking cessation and systolic BP, but there is no evidence for improvements in all-cause mortality and reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.59

Psychoeducational interventions

Strategies for psychoeducational interventions have a specific focus on smoking cessation and depression. The findings are based on synthesis of results from six publications.31 35 36 45 56 69 There is sufficient evidence that psychoeducational programmes are effective at decreasing smoking, achieving smoking abstinence and reducing depression. One review reported no effect on smoking cessation31 or total mortality.56

Secondary prevention educational interventions

The following statements are based on our synthesis of results from three papers.34 41 44 There is some evidence that secondary prevention educational interventions reduce MI readmission rates and improve quality of life, but the intervention was ineffective in reducing revascularisation, cholesterol levels and improving smoking cessation rates. The results are mixed for mortality and re-infarction rates; two reviews34 41 found positive effects on mortality, while one review44 did not.

Patients with T2DM

Ten types of health education-related interventions were used for patients with T2DM: culturally appropriate health education (tailored to the religious beliefs, culture, literacy and linguistics of the geographical area), dietary advice, foot health education, group medical visits (a group education component taught by health professionals), general health education (only included general health information), improving the uptake and maintenance of medication regimes (eg, promoting the use of oral hypoglycaemic medications), lifestyle interventions (specific focus on dietary changes and increased physical activity, or stress management), psychoeducational interventions and self-management educational interventions (activities that promote or maintain the behaviours to manage T2DM often based on the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education13) and therapeutic education (collaborative process needed to modify behaviour and more effectively manage risk factors).

Culturally appropriate health education

Findings are based on our synthesis of results from eight publications.33 42 52–54 58 62 72 Overall, there was some evidence of the effects of culturally appropriate health education on clinical outcomes for T2DM. There was sufficient evidence that culturally appropriate health education improves HbA1c reduction and knowledge scores. There is some evidence that physical activity and clinical outcomes (blood glucose, HbA1c, BP) were improved. There were no data relating to adverse events during the intervention and follow-up (such as hypoglycaemic events and mortality), and there was insufficient evidence about improvements in quality of life.

General health education

The statements are based on our synthesis of results from five papers.40 46 60 74 79 Overall, there were mixed effects of general health education programmes on clinical outcomes for T2DM, including HbA1c, cholesterol level and triglyceride level. There was some evidence of the effectiveness of general health education on the management of glycaemia, weight reduction and some diabetes management outcomes (HbA1c, diabetes complications). There were no data supporting the effectiveness of general health education on reduced health service utilisation, diabetes complications, improved knowledge, psychosocial outcomes or smoking habits.

Lifestyle interventions

The following statements are based on our synthesis of results from six reviews.39 49 55 71 72 77 Overall, there were mixed effects of the lifestyle interventions on cholesterol level, HbA1c level and body weight. There is some evidence that lifestyle interventions or behavioural programmes are effective for blood glucose and BP management, but they were ineffective for reductions in HbA1c scores.71 72

Uptake and maintenance of medication regimes

The statements are based on our synthesis of results from three publications.57 78 80 There is some evidence of the effectiveness of increased uptake and maintenance of medication regimes for taking medications for HbA1c regulation including oral hypoglycaemic agents.

Self-Management educational interventions

The statements are based on our synthesis of results from nine reviews.43 47 61 64 65 67 68 75 76 Overall, there was sufficient evidence of the effects of self-management education interventions on HbA1c level, knowledge, lifestyle outcomes and main psychosocial outcomes. However, there was insufficient evidence of the benefits of this education intervention on depression, quality of life and body weight.

Other health education-related interventions

Other health education-related interventions for patients with T2DM included therapeutic education, foot health education, group medical visits, psychoeducational interventions and dietary advice. Statements for all of these interventions are based on our synthesis of results from one review.

There is some evidence that foot health education is effective in reducing the incidence of lower extremity amputation.32 There is some evidence that group medical visits are effective for improving HbA1c and systolic BP management.38 There is also some evidence that psychoeducational programmes are effective for improving HbA1c regulation and psychological status.30

Finally, there is insufficient evidence that dietary advice improves glycaemic and weight management or reduces microvascular and macrovascular diseases.63 There is also insufficient evidence for the cost-effectiveness of therapeutic education for patients with T2DM.66

Discussion

This umbrella review identified 51 systematic reviews or meta-analyses (15 for ACS and 36 for T2DM) that assessed the outcomes of various aspects (such as the duration, contact hours, educational content, delivery mode) of the delivery of health education-related interventions relevant to high-risk patients with ACS and T2DM. Health education has become an integral part of the management for people with ACS and T2DM. The most appropriate focus of the education provided to patients with ACS and T2DM remains largely undefined in the literature. For example, it remains unknown if the focus should be primarily on cardiovascular risk factors, blood glucose monitoring or all educational components for patients with both conditions.70 76 In addition, should cardiovascular risk factors be the focus during the acute inpatient stay with other educational needs such as the smoking cessation occurring within the primary care or outpatient settings.31 69 70

It remains challenging to determine the specific strategy or format that is the most effective delivery mode for patients with ACS or T2DM. There is very limited evidence to guide clinicians on the duration, contact hours, educational content, delivery mode, total length and setting of health education programme for cardiac patients.50 For patients with DM, one study reported that more successful programme were longer than 6 months (longer duration), consisted of greater than 10 contact sessions (high intensity) and were one-on-one sessions with individualised assessment.82

Use of theoretical orientation to develop educational intervention

For patients with ACS

Use of theory when designing behavioural change interventions may also influence effectiveness.75 Health education using a cognitive behavioural strategy is most consistently effective in changing maladaptive illness beliefs,51 and studies using more than two behavioural change strategies reported significant differences between the intervention and control groups.31 In one review, a significant change in smoking cessation was not observed in subgroup analyses between studies that did or did not report using a theory in intervention planning56; however, the authors did not suggest that using a theory in programme planning should be disregarded but reported that examining actual theories or mechanisms underlying health education programmes is required.56 Owing to the considerable overlap between different theories and the detailed description of the theoretical approach in only approximately 40% of the included papers, it is difficult to determine the most effective theoretical approach, but many models can be used with success, such as the health belief model (HBM), social cognitive theory (SCT) and transtheoretical model (TTM).56 67 69 75 Three reviews31 41 44 noted that some included studies used behavioural strategies such as goal setting. These strategies were found to be beneficial for patients with coronary heart disease.

For patients with T2DM

Although the theoretical approach underpinning the health education programme was not always described, 13 of the 36 reviews (36.11%) related to T2DM reported the theoretical approach used in their included studies. The most common theories were SCT (including self-efficacy), empowerment theories (eg, empowerment behaviour change model, self-determination and autonomy motivation theory, middle-range theory of community empowerment) and TTM. There is evidence that health education interventions based on a theoretical model are likely to be effective.43 Vugt et al suggested that self-care education programmes should be based on theories and that theory-based self-care interventions are more effective than non-theory-based programmes.75 83 Theories could help to specify the key target health behaviours and behavioural change techniques required to generate the desired outcomes.75 The decision regarding the theory should be based on the aim of the programme and factor for intervention.77 Only one review reported that a theoretical approach underpinning the health education programme is not necessary for better outcomes.76 Fourteen reviews30 33 40 46 52 57 60 63 64 67 68 73 75 77 reported that goal setting was conducted in the included studies. Goal setting by patients, health professionals or mutually agreed goals were linked to improved patient outcomes.

Educational content

For patients with ACS

Most reviews reported that the educational content of the interventions was comprehensive. The most common topics, of the average 3.7 topics per education session, were behavioural change, cardiovascular risk factors management, exercise, psychosocial issues and smoking cessation. An underlying principle of health education for patients with ACS is that knowledge is necessary, but not enough to develop health behaviours and change risk factors.31 50 Age, cognitive factors, environmental factors and social and economic background are also important considerations.50 While interventions using a behavioural programme, telephone-based content or self-care are effective for smoking cessation, there was insufficient evidence to support that any type of educational programme was more efficacious than the others.69 Psychoeducation, which is defined as multimodal, educationally based, self-management interventions,31 led to enhanced physical activity levels within 6–12 months when added to cardiac rehabilitation (CR) and was more effective than an exercise programme or health education alone.31 56 Moreover, psychoeducational interventions were more effective for patients with ACS than other types of health education.31 56

For patients with T2DM

The educational content for patients with T2DM focused more on behavioural change, diet, exercise, glycaemic regulation, medication and self-management. Health education that was self-management was more effective for patients with T2DM.40 47 In addition, based on the current evidence, the educational content should be culturally sensitive, especially for patients with T2DM33 42 54; culturally appropriate diabetes health education may have a greater impact on the management of glycaemia and reduce diabetes complications.77 The educational interventions for patients with T2DM focused primarily on HbA1c, lipid levels, quality of life and body weight. HBM and SCT were the most common theories used in the included reviews.

Teaching strategies and outcomes

For patients with ACS

Most reviews reported that the education was provided using multiple teaching methods and in multiple settings. Nurses and multidisciplinary teams were the most frequent people providing education, and most education programmes were delivered postdischarge. Although face-to-face sessions were the most common delivery format, many education sessions were also delivered by telephone or through individualised counselling. Telephone-based health education appeared to be effective for reducing hospitalisations, systolic BP, smoking rates, depression and anxiety.59 The educational interventions for patients with ACS focused primarily on clinical outcomes (hospitalisation and mortality), modifiable risk factors (BP, low-density lipoprotein levels and smoking cessation) and other psychological outcomes (anxiety and depression).

For patients with T2DM

Mixed health education programmes generally included group sessions combined with educator-facilitated individual sessions, covering basic knowledge and problem-solving skills. These programmes produced greater benefits and larger effect sizes for blood glucose reduction and knowledge levels in patients with T2DM.47 In contrast, individual education programmes have been reported as more effective in achieving outcomes than group-based education. This may be because education programmes might be more efficient at addressing personal needs, with greater participant engagement.73 However, one systematic review reported that individual and group patient education demonstrated similar outcomes among patients with T2DM.46

Although face-to-face sessions were the most common delivery format, many education sessions were also delivered by telephone or individualised counselling. Face-to-face health education programmes were most effective for enhancing blood glucose regulation and knowledge levels, while mixed delivery models (face-to-face, phone contact, online or web-based or video) produced a moderate effect for knowledge levels.47 Another review reported that face-to-face health education programmes generated a greater benefit for metabolic management than those delivered using electronic communication technology.73

Nurses (including diabetes nurses educators), community workers, dieticians and multidisciplinary teams were the most frequent educators, and most of the education programmes were delivered postdischarge. Some reviews indicated that health education programmes delivered by a group of different educators, with some degree of education reinforcement at additional points of contact, may provide the best results.60 76 However, based on two studies that reported HbA1c at 12 months, it is indicated that the outcomes in studies with only a diabetes nurse as the educator also tended to do better than the outcomes in studies with a multidisciplinary team, while the biggest effect was seen when a dietician was the only educator.76 Health education programmes delivered by one person may focus more on the patient’s ability than the educational content or quality of the health education programmes.76 However, no clear conclusion can be drawn whether having one educator delivering the intervention is best due to few information.60

Delivery, timing and follow-up

For patients with ACS

Most educational sessions were delivered weekly. Few reviews provided information regarding the duration of education interventions; when the duration was reported, it varied from 4 weeks to 48 months. These findings suggest that there is a significant gap in the evidence in relation to the duration, contact hours, educational content, optimal delivery mode, total length and setting of health education programmes for cardiac patients.50 For patients with ACS, one systematic review that included 7 studies with a total of 536 participants reported that studies with education lasting at least 6 months resulted in the most significant changes in the primary outcomes (such as behavioural change, smoking cessation)31 and that at least 12 months of follow-up is needed to evaluate the impact of telephone-based education.59 Another review reported that the intensity of education programmes is important for efficacy regarding smoking cessation: interventions with a very low intensity and brief interventions do not have a significant effect,69 and programmes for smoking cessation among patients with coronary heart disease should last >1 month.69 Most of the reviews were provided for patients with ACS in inpatient settings and then within postdischarge settings, five reviews31 36 45 48 59 did not explicitly state the settings in which the health education-related interventions were provided.

For patients with T2DM

Education sessions were delivered weekly or monthly. Longer health education programmes for T2DM (>6 months) produced larger effects for all primary outcomes (such as HbA1c).47 Health education lasting >3 months resulted in the largest effect size compared with health education of a shorter duration (<3 months).33 For HbA1c, the effect size at 6 months seemed to be significantly greater than at 3 and 12 months; in other words, the effect size peaked at 6 months.62 In general, health education of a greater intensity (longer duration and more sessions) was more effective for blood glucose reduction and knowledge levels among patients with T2DM.47 74 Compared with health education programmes covering only one topic, programmes that included multiple or mixed educational topics yielded consistently greater benefits in blood glucose reduction and knowledge levels.47 In addition, health education programmes combined with specific behavioural change strategies (such as self-care strategies) seemed more effective than other programmes.47 Health education-related interventions were mainly delivered in hospital settings, primary care settings, diabetes centres or community-based settings, although six reviews32 39 55 58 67 72 did not explicitly state the delivery settings.

Recommendations about health education interventions for patients with ACS and T2DM

These results from included systematic reviews and meta-analyses help to provide recommendations about the content of a health education intervention for patients with ACS and T2DM, requiring further evaluation. Future development of educational programmes for patients with ACS and T2DM by healthcare professionals should consider the needs of people with these diseases.37 40 42 70 Based on the results and findings from this umbrella review, recommendations are made in table 5. The acute life-threatening nature of ACS requires that increased emphasis should be placed on cardiovascular risk factors in any combined education programme. Both ACS and T2DM have common lifestyle factors such as inactivity and high fat diet requiring modifications.

Table 5

Recommendations of health education programmes for patients with ACS and T2DM

Overall completeness and applicability of evidence

This overview potentially provides an estimate with the lowest level of bias for the impact of health education-related interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM and could be regarded as an all-inclusive summary of the current evidence base for health education for these patients. While this umbrella review identified evidence for each of the types of health education, there was only a small number of reviews within some categories (such as psychoeducational intervention30 and dietary advice63), and these studies were not very informative. This umbrella review also found no reviews that systematically analysed varying doses of health education; therefore, could not examine the dose-response effects. There was insufficient information about the evaluated doses (total contact hours and duration of education) to enable comparison of the benefits of differences in the magnitude of the doses across the different research. This umbrella review found no reviews focused on patients with ACS and T2DM; instead, all of the systematic reviews and meta-analyses focused on only one of these diseases.

Quality of the evidence

The methodological quality of the included systematic reviews and meta-analyses varied. All of the included reviews or meta-analyses were of moderate-to-high methodological quality, as assessed using AMSTAR. However, only 30 (58.8%) systematic reviews or meta-analyses were rated as high quality and only 3 (5.9%) systematic reviews or meta-analyses43 53 69 adequately met all 11 AMSTAR criteria. This indicates that some of the reviews included in this umbrella review may have limitations in their design, conduct and/or reporting that could have influenced the findings when considered both individually and collectively.32 65

The quality of the primary studies in the included systematic reviews or meta-analyses also varied. The main sources of bias were inadequate reporting of allocation concealment and randomisation processes, as well as lack of outcome blinding.33 42 69 70 This bias in the methodological quality led to lower quality assessments, which varied by results within each included review. Other reasons for lower methodological quality included heterogeneity in, or inconsistency of, the effect and imprecise findings. Heterogeneity between studies in this umbrella review was described in terms of the intervention, participant characteristics and length of follow-up. Heterogeneity was an important factor indicating the complexity of the health education interventions.56 The variability in the approaches, tools or scales used to measure outcomes between the included studies are likely to introduce some heterogeneity.30 The heterogeneity of the educational interventions seen in the reviews included in this umbrella review may reflect the uncertainty about the optimal strategy for providing health education to patients.37 In addition, 240 studies were included more than once in the included reviews and meta-analyses. However, the overall overlap of studies among reviews and meta-analyses-related ACS and T2DM was slight, CCA of 2.6% and 2.1%, respectively.25

This umbrella review is the first synthesis of systematic reviews or meta-analyses to take a broad perspective on health education-related interventions for patients with ACS or T2DM. Given that health education is complex, the biggest challenge for systematic reviews or meta-analyses of health education is accounting for the potential clinical heterogeneity in health education-related interventions (content and delivery approaches) and the population of patients who receive health education. To facilitate comparisons across systematic reviews of health education and the efficient future update of this umbrella review, future reviews or meta-analyses need high-quality research and to standardise their design and reporting, including the reporting of included study characteristics, assessment criteria for risk of bias, outcomes and methods to synthesise evidence synthesis.

Conclusions

For clinicians providing educational interventions to individuals with ACS and T2DM, the results from this review provide a contemporaneous perspective on current evidence on the effectiveness of health education (its content and delivery methods) for this high-risk patient group. The current evidence compiled by this umbrella review supports current international clinical guidelines, that theoretically based education interventions lasting 6 months, delivered in multiple modes (face to face, phone contact, online or web-based or video), and with individualised education delivered weekly, are more likely to generate positive outcomes. This review also supports health education-related interventions provided by health professionals, including nurses and multidisciplinary teams, delivering content including specific clinical factors for ACS and T2DM (BP, glycaemic level and medication), modifiable risk factors (unhealthy diet, inactivity and smoking) and other psychological factors (anxiety and depression). These health education interventions could be delivered postdischarge, such as rehabilitation centres, primary care centres and the community and should be at least 6 months in duration. The effectiveness of these programmes was based on HbA1c levels, knowledge, psychosocial outcomes, readmission rates and smoking status rather than clear evidence of reduced mortality, MI or short-term and long-term complications. In addition, psychoeducational interventions were more effective for patients with ACS, and health education that was culturally appropriate or taught self-management was more effective for patients with T2DM. We also found that longer durations and high-intensity health education provided in an individualised format were more helpful for patients with ACS or T2DM.

The fact that none of the included reviews included patients with both ACS and T2DM indicates a clear need for further rigorous experimental studies with patients with both diseases. Future research that includes these aspects of education are likely to determine the effectiveness of educational interventions focusing on cardiovascular and DM risk factors and complications within patients with ACS and T2DM.

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the authors of the original articles who provided additional unpublished data.

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View Abstract

Footnotes

  • Contributors Study conception and design: XL-L, MJ, KW, C-JW, YS. Data collection: XL-L, YS. Data analysis: XL-L, YS, MJ, KW, C-JW. Manuscript drafts: XL-L, MJ, C-JW, KW, YS.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. The lead author is a recipient of an Australian Catholic University Faculty of Health Sciences Tongji University Cotutelle PhD Scholarship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

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