Social isolation predicts re-hospitalization in a group of older American veterans enrolled in the UPBEAT Program. Unified Psychogeriatric Biopsychosocial Evaluation and Treatment

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2001 Oct;16(10):950-9. doi: 10.1002/gps.447.


Objectives: Does social isolation predict re-hospitalization in a group of older men enrolled in Unified Psychogeriatric Biopsychosocial Evaluation and Treatment (UPBEAT), a mental health care-coordination project at nine Veterans Affairs Healthcare Centers nationwide?

Methods: The current study examined 123 UPBEAT patients located at West Los Angeles, whose ratings were available on the Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS), the SF-36 scale, the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS) and the Mental Health Index (MHI-38) Depression and Anxiety subscales. Within one year of enrollment, 55% of patients were re-hospitalized. Odds of re-hospitalization were calculated using two logistic regression models. Social isolation risk (LSNS) and demographic covariates were included. In addition, Model 1 contained depression and anxiety measures (MHI-38) and physician-rated medical burden (CIRS), while in Model 2, patient-perceived physical (PCS) and mental health (MCS) subscales from the SF-36 were included.

Results: The group of patients who were socially isolated or at high or moderate risk for isolation, were 4-5 times more likely to be re-hospitalized within the year, than low isolation risk patients. In both Models 1 (chi-square = 19.86; p = 0.031) and 2 (chi-square = 26.42; p = 0.002) demographic characteristics were not significant predictors of re-hospitalization, but social isolation risk was a significant predictor (Model 1: odds ratio (OR) = 5.31; 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 1.81-15.53; and Model 2: OR = 3.86; 95% CI = 1.39-10.73). In addition, MHI-Anxiety was a significant predictor (OR = 1.22; 95% CI = 1.05-1.43) in Model 1 and in Model 2, patient-perceived physical health significantly predicted re-hospitalization (OR = 0.91; 95% CI = 0.86-0.96).

Conclusion: When controlling for other covariates, social isolation, physical health and mental health were significant risk factors for re-hospitalization. These findings underline the importance of assessing and addressing lack of social support, along with other factors, in the health care of older male veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Forecasting
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Social Support*
  • Veterans / psychology*