Objective To compare the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the rate of acute paediatric hospital admissions.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, The Cochrane Library, Science Citation Index Expanded from inception to September 2010; hand searches of the reference lists of included papers and other review papers identified in the search.
Review methods Controlled trials were included. Articles were screened for inclusion independently by two reviewers. Data extraction and quality appraisal were performed by one reviewer and checked by a second with discrepancies resolved by discussion with a third if necessary.
Results Seven papers were included. There is some evidence to suggest that short stay units may reduce admission rates. However, there is a general lack of detail in the reporting of interventions and the methods used in their evaluation which precludes detailed interpretation and extrapolation of the results. The authors found no evidence that the use of algorithms and guidelines to manage the admission decision was effective in reducing acute admission rates. Furthermore, the authors were unable to locate any eligible papers reporting the effects on admission rates of admission decision by paediatric consultant, telephone triage by paediatric consultant or the establishment of next day emergency paediatric clinics.
Conclusion There is little published evidence upon which to base an optimal strategy for reducing paediatric admission rates. The evidence that does exist is subject to substantial bias. There is a pressing need for high quality, well conducted research to enable informed service change.
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Funding This systematic review was funded by the National Institute for Health Research through PenCLAHRC. This review presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.