Tele-assistance in chronic respiratory failure patients: A randomised clinical trial

M. Vitacca, L. Bianchi, A. Guerra, C. Fracchia, A. Spanevello, B. Balbi, S. Scalvini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic respiratory patients requiring oxygen or home mechanical ventilation experience frequent exacerbations and hospitalisations with related costs. Strict monitoring and care have been recommended. The aim of the present study was to primarily evaluate reduction in hospitalisations and, secondly, exacerbations, general practitioner (GP) calls and related cost- effectiveness of tele-assistance (TA) for these patients. A total of 240 patients (101 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) were randomised to two groups: an intervention group entered a 1-yr TA programme while controls received traditional care. No anthropometric and clinical differences were found between groups both in baseline and in mortality (18% for TA, 23% for controls). Compared with controls, the TA group experienced significantly fewer hospitalisations (-36%), urgent GP calls (-65%) and acute exacerbations (-71%). Only COPD patients, as a separate group, had fewer hospitalisations, emergency room admissions, urgent GP calls or exacerbations. Each patient referred to staff a mean ± SD 36 ± 25 times. After deduction of TA costs, the average overall cost for each patient was 33% less than that for usual care. In chronic respiratory failure patients on oxygen or home mechanical ventilation, a nurse- centred tele-assistance prevents hospitalisations while it is cost-effective. The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease group seems to have a greater advantage from tele-assistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Home care mechanical ventilation
  • Telehealth telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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