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Early assisted discharge with generic community nursing for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations: results of a randomised controlled trial
  1. Cecile M A Utens1,2,
  2. Lucas M A Goossens3,
  3. Frank W J M Smeenk1,
  4. Maureen P M H Rutten-van Mölken3,
  5. Monique van Vliet4,
  6. Maria W Braken5,
  7. Loes M G A van Eijsden6,
  8. Onno C P van Schayck2
  1. 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Catharina-hospital Eindhoven, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of General Practice, CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  3. 3Institute for Medical Health Technology Assessment, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Respiratory Medicine, Atrium Medical Centre, Heerlen, The Netherlands
  5. 5Department of Staff nurses Nursing and Care, ZuidZorg, Veldhoven, The Netherlands
  6. 6Department of Health Care Policy, Meander Group Zuid-Limburg, Heerlen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Cecile Utens; cecileutens{at}


Objectives To determine the effectiveness of early assisted discharge for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, with home care provided by generic community nurses, compared with usual hospital care.

Design Prospective, randomised controlled and multicentre trial with 3-month follow-up.

Setting Five hospitals and three home care organisations in the Netherlands.

Participants Patients admitted to the hospital with an exacerbation of COPD. Patients with no or limited improvement of respiratory symptoms and patients with severe unstable comorbidities, social problems or those unable to visit the toilet independently were excluded.

Intervention Early discharge from hospital after 3 days inpatient treatment. Home visits by generic community nurses. Primary outcome measure was change in health status measured by the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ). Treatment failures, readmissions, mortality and change in generic health-related quality of life (HRQL) were secondary outcome measures.

Results 139 patients were randomised. No difference between groups was found in change in CCQ score at day 7 (difference in mean change 0.29 (95% CI −0.03 to 0.61)) or at 3 months (difference in mean change 0.04 (95% CI –0.40 to 0.49)). No difference was found in secondary outcomes. At day 7 there was a significant difference in change in generic HRQL, favouring usual hospital care.

Conclusions While patients’ disease-specific health status after 7-day treatment tended to be somewhat better in the usual hospital care group, the difference was small and not clinically relevant or statistically significant. After 3 months, the difference had disappeared. A significant difference in generic HRQL at the end of the treatment had disappeared after 3 months and there was no difference in treatment failures, readmissions or mortality. Early assisted discharge with community nursing is feasible and an alternative to usual hospital care for selected patients with an acute COPD exacerbation.

Trial registration: NetherlandsTrialRegister NTR 1129.

  • Primary Care

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