Recurrent readmissions in medical patients: a prospective study

J Hosp Med. 2011 Feb;6(2):61-7. doi: 10.1002/jhm.811. Epub 2010 Oct 12.


Background: Hospital readmissions are common and costly. A recent previous hospitalization preceding the index admission is a marker of increased risk of future readmission.

Objectives: To identify factors associated with an increased risk of recurrent readmission in medical patients with 2 or more hospitalizations in the past 6 months.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Australian teaching hospital acute medical wards, February 2006-February 2007.

Participants: 142 inpatients aged ≥ 50 years with a previous hospitalization ≤ 6 months preceding the index admission. Patients from residential care, with terminal illness, or with serious cognitive or language difficulties were excluded.

Variables of interest: Demographics, previous hospitalizations, diagnosis, comorbidities and nutritional status were recorded in hospital. Participants were assessed at home within 2 weeks of hospital discharge using validated questionnaires for cognition, literacy, activities of daily living (ADL)/instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) function, depression, anxiety, alcohol use, medication adherence, social support, and financial status.

Main outcome measure: Unplanned readmission to the study hospital within 6 months.

Results: A total of 55 participants (38.7%) had a further unplanned hospital admission within 6 months. In multivariate analysis, chronic disease (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 3.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-9.3, P = 0.002), depressive symptoms (adjusted OR, 3.0; 95% CI, 1.3-6.8, P = 0.01), and underweight (adjusted OR, 12.7; 95% CI, 2.3-70.7, P = 0.004) were significant predictors of readmission after adjusting for age, length of stay and functional status.

Conclusions: In this high-risk patient group, multiple chronic conditions are common and predict increased risk of readmission. Post-hospital interventions should consider targeting nutritional and mood status in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Chronic Disease
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutritional Status
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychometrics
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States