Depression is a risk factor for rehospitalization in medical inpatients

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2007;9(4):256-62. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v09n0401.


Background: Rehospitalization occurs in approximately 20% of medical inpatients within 90 days of discharge. Rehospitalization accounts for considerable morbidity, mortality, and costs. Identification of risk factors could lead to interventions to reduce rehospitalization. The objective of the study was to determine if physical and mental health, substance abuse, and social support are risk factors for rehospitalization.

Method: This was a prospective cohort study in an innercity population conducted from September 2002 to September 2004. Participants included 144 adult inpatients with at least 1 hospital admission in the past 6 months. Measurements included age, length of stay, number of admissions in the past year, and medical comorbidity as well as measures of depression, alcohol and drug abuse, social support, and health-related quality of life. The outcome studied was the rehospitalization status of participants within 90 days of the index hospitalization.

Results: The mean age of the subjects was 54.8 years; 48% were black and 78% spoke English as a primary language. Subjects were admitted a mean of 2.5 times in the year before the index admission. Sixty-four patients (44%) were subsequently rehospitalized within 90 days after the index admission. In bivariate analysis, rehospitalized patients had more prior admissions (median of 3.0 vs. 2.0 admissions, p = .002), greater medical comorbidity (mean Charlson Comorbidity Index score of 2.6 vs. 2.0, p = .04), and poorer physical functional status (mean SF-12 physical component score of 31.5 vs. 36.2, p = .03). A logistic regression model, including prior admissions in the last year, comorbidity, physical functional status, and depression, showed that depression tripled the odds of rehospitalization (odds ratio = 3.3, 95% CI = 1.2 to 9.3). This model had fair accuracy in identifying patients at greatest risk for rehospitalization (c statistic = 0.72).

Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with a history of prior hospitalization within 6 months who screen positive for depression are 3 times more likely to be rehospitalized within 90 days in this relatively high-risk population. Screening during hospitalization for depressive symptoms may identify those at risk for rehospitalization.