A Qualitative Study of Increased Pediatric Reutilization After a Postdischarge Home Nurse Visit

J Hosp Med. 2020 Sep;15(9):518-525. doi: 10.12788/jhm.3370.


Background: The Hospital to Home Outcomes (H2O) trial was a 2-arm, randomized controlled trial that assessed the effects of a nurse home visit after a pediatric hospital discharge. Children randomized to the intervention had higher 30-day postdischarge reutilization rates compared with those with standard discharge. We sought to understand perspectives on why postdischarge home nurse visits resulted in higher reutilization rates and to elicit suggestions on how to improve future interventions.

Methods: We sought qualitative input using focus groups and interviews from stakeholder groups: parents, primary care physicians (PCP), hospital medicine physicians, and home care registered nurses (RNs). A multidisciplinary team coded and analyzed transcripts using an inductive, iterative approach.

Results: Thirty-three parents participated in interviews. Three focus groups were completed with PCPs (n = 7), 2 with hospital medicine physicians (n = 12), and 2 with RNs (n = 10). Major themes in the explanation of increased reutilization included: appropriateness of patient reutilization; impact of red flags/warning sign instructions on family's reutilization decisions; hospital-affiliated RNs "directing traffic" back to hospital; and home visit RNs had a low threshold for escalating care. Major themes for improving design of the intervention included: need for improved postdischarge communication; individualizing home visits-one size does not fit all; and providing context and framing of red flags.

Conclusion: Stakeholders questioned whether hospital reutilization was appropriate and whether the intervention unintentionally directed patients back to the hospital. Future interventions could individualize the visit to specific needs or diagnoses, enhance postdischarge communication, and better connect patients and home nurses to primary care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aftercare*
  • Child
  • Home Care Services*
  • House Calls
  • Humans
  • Nurses, Community Health*
  • Patient Discharge*