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Living alone and homelessness as predictors of 30-day potentially preventable hospital readmission

E. LaWall, Y.Y. Wu, V. Y. Fan, M. Ashton, T. Sentell
Prev Chronic Dis

Introduction: The effect of social factors on health care outcomes is widely recognized. Health care systems are encouraged to add social and behavioral measures to electronic health records (EHRs), but limited research demonstrates how to leverage this information. We assessed 2 social factors collected from EHRs - social isolation and homelessness - in predicting 30-day potentially preventable readmissions (PPRs) to hospital.

Methods: EHR data were collected from May 2015 through April 2017 from inpatients at 2 urban hospitals on O'ahu, Hawai'i (N = 21,274). We performed multivariable logistic regression models predicting 30-day PPR by living alone versus living with others and by documented homelessness versus no documented homelessness, controlling for relevant factors, including age group, race/ethnicity, sex, and comorbid conditions.

Results: Among the 21,274 index hospitalizations, 16.5% (3,504) were people living alone and 11.2% (2,385) were homeless; 4.2% (899) hospitalizations had a 30-day PPR. In bivariate analysis, living alone did not significantly affect likelihood of a 30-day PPR (16.6% [3,376 hospitalizations] without PPR vs 14.4% [128 hospitalizations] with PPR; P = .09). However, documented homelessness did show a significant effect on the likelihood of 30-day PPR in the bivariate analysis (11.1% [2,259 hospitalizations] without PPR vs 14.1% [126 hospitalizations] with PPR; P = .006). In multivariable models, neither living alone nor homelessness was significantly associated with PPR. Factors that were significantly associated with PPR were comorbid conditions, discharge disposition, and use of an assistive device.

Conclusion: Homelessness predicted PPR in descriptive analyses. Neither living alone nor homelessness predicted PPR once other factors were controlled. Instead, indicators of physical frailty (ie, use of an assistive device) and medical complexity (eg, hospitalizations that required assistive care post-discharge, people with a high number of comorbid conditions) were significant. Future research should focus on refining, collecting, and applying social factor data obtained through acute care EHRs.

LaWall E, Wu YY, Fan VY, Ashton M, Sentell T. Living alone and homelessness as predictors of 30-day potentially preventable hospital readmission. Prev Chronic Dis. 2019;16:E16. PMID: 30730829. DOI: 10.5888/pcd16.180189.

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Social Determinant of Health
Housing Stability
Social Support/Social Isolation
Study design
Other Study Design