Social network interventions to support cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention in the management of people with heart disease

Carrie Purcell*, Grace Dibben, Michele Hilton Boon, Lynsay Matthews, Victoria J. Palmer, Meigan Thomson, Susie Smillie, Sharon A. Simpson, Rod S. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Globally, cardiovascular diseases (CVD, that is, coronary heart (CHD) and circulatory diseases combined) contribute to 31% of all deaths, more than any other cause. In line with guidance in the UK and globally, cardiac rehabilitation programmes are widely offered to people with heart disease, and include psychosocial, educational, health behaviour change, and risk management components. Social support and social network interventions have potential to improve outcomes of these programmes, but whether and how these interventions work is poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of social network and social support interventions to support cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention in the management of people with heart disease. The comparator was usual care with no element of social support (i.e. secondary prevention alone or with cardiac rehabilitation). SEARCH METHODS: We undertook a systematic search of the following databases on 9 August 2022: CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and the Web of Science. We also searched ClinicalTrials.gov and the WHO ICTRP. We reviewed the reference lists of relevant systematic reviews and included primary studies, and we contacted experts to identify additional studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of social network or social support interventions for people with heart disease. We included studies regardless of their duration of follow-up, and included those reported as full text, published as abstract only, and unpublished data.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Using Covidence, two review authors independently screened all identified titles. We retrieved full-text study reports and publications marked 'included', and two review authors independently screened these, and conducted data extraction. Two authors independently assessed risk of bias, and assessed the certainty of the evidence using GRADE. Primary outcomes were all-cause mortality, cardiovascular-related mortality, all-cause hospital admission, cardiovascular-related hospital admission, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measured at > 12 months follow-up. MAIN RESULTS: We included 54 RCTs (126 publications) reporting data for a total of 11,445 people with heart disease. The median follow-up was seven months and median sample size was 96 participants. Of included study participants, 6414 (56%) were male, and the mean age ranged from 48.6 to 76.3 years. Studies included heart failure (41%), mixed cardiac disease (31%), post-myocardial infarction (13%), post-revascularisation (7%), CHD (7%), and cardiac X syndrome (1%) patients. The median intervention duration was 12 weeks. We identified notable diversity in social network and social support interventions, across what was delivered, how, and by whom. We assessed risk of bias (RoB) in primary outcomes at > 12 months follow-up as either 'low' (2/15 studies), 'some concerns' (11/15), or 'high' (2/15). 'Some concerns' or 'high' RoB resulted from insufficient detail on blinding of outcome assessors, data missingness, and absence of pre-agreed statistical analysis plans. In particular, HRQoL outcomes were at high RoB. Using the GRADE method, we assessed the certainty of evidence as low or very low across outcomes. Social network or social support interventions had no clear effect on all-cause mortality (risk ratio (RR) 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.49 to 1.13, I 2 = 40%) or cardiovascular-related mortality (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.10, I 2 = 0%) at > 12 months follow-up. The evidence suggests that social network or social support interventions for heart disease may result in little to no difference in all-cause hospital admission (RR 1.03, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.22, I 2 = 0%), or cardiovascular-related hospital admission (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.77 to 1.10, I 2 = 16%), with a low level of certainty. The evidence was very uncertain regarding the impact of social network interventions on HRQoL at > 12 months follow-up (SF-36 physical component score: mean difference (MD) 31.53, 95% CI -28.65 to 91.71, I 2 = 100%, 2 trials/comparisons, 166 participants; mental component score MD 30.62, 95% CI -33.88 to 95.13, I 2 = 100%, 2 trials/comparisons, 166 participants). Regarding secondary outcomes, there may be a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure with social network or social support interventions. There was no evidence of impact found on psychological well-being, smoking, cholesterol, myocardial infarction, revascularisation, return to work/education, social isolation or connectedness, patient satisfaction, or adverse events. Results of meta-regression did not suggest that the intervention effect was related to risk of bias, intervention type, duration, setting, and delivery mode, population type, study location, participant age, or percentage of male participants. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: We found no strong evidence for the effectiveness of such interventions, although modest effects were identified in relation to blood pressure. While the data presented in this review are indicative of potential for positive effects, the review also highlights the lack of sufficient evidence to conclusively support such interventions for people with heart disease. Further high-quality, well-reported RCTs are required to fully explore the potential of social support interventions in this context. Future reporting of social network and social support interventions for people with heart disease needs to be significantly clearer, and more effectively theorised, in order to ascertain causal pathways and effect on outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD013820
Number of pages255
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Volume2023
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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