Risk of continued institutionalization after hospitalization in older adults

James S. Goodwin, Bret Howrey, Dong D. Zhang, Yong Fang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Background. Little is known about the role of hospitalization as a risk factor for placement into long-term care. We therefore sought to estimate the percentage of long-term care nursing home stays precipitated by a hospitalization and factors associated with risk of nursing home placement after hospitalization. Methods. We studied a retrospective cohort of a 5% sample of Medicare enrollees aged ≥ 66 years. The study included 762,243 patients admitted 1,149,568 times in January-April of 1996-2008, with 3,880,292 nonhospitalized controls. We measured residence in a nursing home 6 months after hospitalization.Results.From 1996 through 2008, 5.55% of hospitalized patients resided in a nursing home 6 months later compared with 0.54% of nonhospitalized control patients. Three quarters of new nursing home placements were precipitated by a hospitalization. Independent risk factors for long-term care placement after hospitalization included advanced age (odds ratio [OR] = 3.56 for age 85-94 vs. 66-74 years), female gender (OR = 1.41), dementia (OR = 6.15), and discharge from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility (SNF; OR = 10.83). Having a primary care physician was associated with reduced odds (OR = 0.75). In the adjusted analyses, risk of institutionalization after hospitalization decreased 4% per year from 1996 to 2008. There were very large geographic variations in rates of long-term care after hospitalization, from <2% in some hospital referral regions to >13% in others for patients >75 years in 2007-2008.Conclusions.Most placements in nursing homes are preceded by a hospitalization followed by discharge to a SNF. Discharge to a SNF is associated with a high risk of subsequent long-term care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1327
Number of pages7
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Volume66 A
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Long-term care
  • Risk factor
  • Skilled nursing facility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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