How do integrated care programmes work for patients with cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes and multi-morbidity? A rapid realist review

J. C. Mewes*, S. A. Ahmed, H. J. M. Vrijhoef

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


Background In previous years, many multi-faceted initiatives have been set up to improve outcomes for people with chronic diseases. Evaluation studies about the (cost-)effectiveness of these integrated care programs showed heterogeneity in outcomes. Hence, it has been suggested to use realist evaluation for the evaluation of integrated care programmes. Thus, our aim was to gain insight into whether and how existing integrated care programmes work for people with cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes and multi-morbidity, and under what conditions within the Dutch healthcare setting. Methods A rapid realist review was conducted to identify the context and mechanisms that are associated with the outcomes of integrated care programmes. From a selection of systematic reviews and meta-analyses and Dutch literature, data on the context, mechanisms and outcomes of integrated care programmes were extracted. The data were analysed by placing the extracted variables in context-mechanism-outcome configurations which showed their interrelatedness. A panel of executives from Dutch care groups assessed the face validity of the context-mechanism-outcome configurations. Results Based on the existing literature, context-mechanism-outcome configurations were compiled for all five diseases. Some configurations could be filled with more detail than others, with the configuration of integrated care for people with diabetes being the most complete. Context-mechanism-outcome configurations were completed and confirmed by executives from Dutch care groups. Conclusion The configurations together with the identified factors in them reveal the underlying preliminary program theories of integrated care programmes. These theories need to be tested in further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Care Coordination
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Integrated care
  • realist review
  • diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • depression
  • multi-morbidity

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