Understanding rehospitalization risk: can hospital discharge be modified to reduce recurrent hospitalization?

J Hosp Med. 2007 Sep;2(5):297-304. doi: 10.1002/jhm.206.


Background: A high rate of unnecessary rehospitalization has been shown to be related to a poorly managed discharge processes.

Objective: A qualitative study was conducted in order to understand the phenomenon of frequent rehospitalization from the perspective of discharged patients and to determine if activities at the time of discharge could be designed to reduce the number of adverse events and rehospitalization.

Design: Semistructured, open-ended interviews were conducted with 21 patients during their hospital stay at Boston Medical Center. Interviews assessed continuity of care after discharge, need for and availability of social support, and ability to obtain follow-up medical care.

Results: Difficult life circumstances posed a greater barrier to recuperation than lack of medical knowledge. All participants were able to describe their medical condition, the reasons they were admitted to the hospital, and the discharge instructions they received. All reported the types of medications being taken or the conditions for which the medications were prescribed. Recuperation was compromised by factors that contribute to undermining the ability of patients to follow their doctors' recommendations including support for medical and basic needs, substance use, and limitations in the availability of transportation to medical appointments. Distress, particularly depression, further contributed to poor health and undermined the ability to follow doctors' recommendations and the discharge plans.

Conclusions: Discharge interventions that assess the need for social support and provide access and services have the potential to reduce chronic rehospitalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Boston
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • Social Support