Impact of social factors on risk of readmission or mortality in pneumonia and heart failure: systematic review

J Gen Intern Med. 2013 Feb;28(2):269-82. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2235-x. Epub 2012 Oct 6.


Background: Readmission and mortality after hospitalization for community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and heart failure (HF) are publically reported. This systematic review assessed the impact of social factors on risk of readmission or mortality after hospitalization for CAP and HF-variables outside a hospital's control.

Methods: We searched OVID, PubMed and PSYCHINFO for studies from 1980 to 2012. Eligible articles examined the association between social factors and readmission or mortality in patients hospitalized with CAP or HF. We abstracted data on study characteristics, domains of social factors examined, and presence and magnitude of associations.

Results: Seventy-two articles met inclusion criteria (20 CAP, 52 HF). Most CAP studies evaluated age, gender, and race and found older age and non-White race were associated with worse outcomes. The results for gender were mixed. Few studies assessed higher level social factors, but those examined were often, but inconsistently, significantly associated with readmissions after CAP, including lower education, low income, and unemployment, and with mortality after CAP, including low income. For HF, older age was associated with worse outcomes and results for gender were mixed. Non-Whites had more readmissions after HF but decreased mortality. Again, higher level social factors were less frequently studied, but those examined were often, but inconsistently, significantly associated with readmissions, including low socioeconomic status (Medicaid insurance, low income), living situation (home stability rural address), lack of social support, being unmarried and risk behaviors (smoking, cocaine use and medical/visit non-adherence). Similar findings were observed for factors associated with mortality after HF, along with psychiatric comorbidities, lack of home resources and greater distance to hospital.

Conclusions: A broad range of social factors affect the risk of post-discharge readmission and mortality in CAP and HF. Future research on adverse events after discharge should study social determinants of health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Community-Acquired Infections / mortality
  • Community-Acquired Infections / therapy
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pneumonia / mortality
  • Pneumonia / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Treatment Outcome