Telehealth is an approach to disease management, which may hold the potential of improving some of the features associated with COPD, including positive impact on disease progression, and thus possibly limiting further reduction in quality of life (QoL). Our objective was, therefore, to summarize studies addressing the impact of telehealth on QoL in patients with COPD.
A series of systematic searches were carried out using the following databases: PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and ClinicalTrials.gov (last updated November 2015). A predefined search algorithm was utilized with the intention to capture all results related to COPD, QoL, and telehealth published since year 2000.
Out of the 18 studies fulfilling the criteria for inclusion in this review, three studies found statistically significant improvements in QoL for patients allocated to telemedical interventions. However, all of the other included studies found no statistically significant differences between control and telemedical intervention groups in terms of QoL.
Telehealth does not make a strong case for itself when exclusively looking at QoL as an outcome, since statistically significant improvements relative to control groups have been observed only in few of the available studies. Nonetheless, this does not only rule out the possibility that telehealth is superior to standard care with regard to other outcomes but also seems to call for more research, not least in large-scale controlled trials.