The utilization of disease management (DM) as a minimum standard of care is believed to facilitate pronounced benefits in overall patient outcome and cost management. Randomized clinical trials remain the gold standard evaluative tool in clinical medicine. However, the extent to which contemporary cardiovascular clinical trials incorporate DM components into their treatment or control arms is unknown.
This study is the first to evaluate the extent to which clinical trials incorporate DM as a minimum standard of care for both the intervention and control groups. In total, 386 clinical trials published in three leading medical journals between 2003 and 2006 were evaluated. For each study, elements related to DM care, as defined using the American Heart Association Taxonomy, were abstracted and characterized.
The results demonstrate that while the application of DM has increased over time, only 3.4% of the clinical trials examined incorporated all eight DM elements (and only 11% of such trials incorporated four DM elements).A significant association was found between study year and the inclusion of more than three elements of DM (χ2= 10.10 (3); p= 0.018). In addition, associations were found between study objective and DM criteria, as well as between cohort type and domains described. This study serves as a baseline reference for the tracking of DM within, and its application to, randomized clinical trials. Moreover, the results underscore the need for broader implementation and evaluation of DM as a minimum care standard within clinical trial research.