Geographic Variation of Statin Use Among US Nursing Home Residents With Life-limiting Illness

Med Care. 2021 May 1;59(5):425-436. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001505.


Background: Medically compromised nursing home residents continue to be prescribed statins, despite questionable benefits.

Objective: To describe regional variation in statin use among residents with life-limiting illness.

Research design: Cross-sectional study using 2016 Minimum Data Set 3.0 assessments linked to Medicare administrative data and health service utilization area resource files.

Setting: Nursing homes (n=14,147) within hospital referral regions (n=306) across the United States.

Subjects: Long-stay residents (aged 65 y and older) with life-limiting illness (eg, serious illness, palliative care, or prognosis <6 mo to live) (n=361,170).

Measures: Prevalent statin use was determined by Medicare Part D claims. Stratified by age (65-75, 76 y or older), multilevel logistic models provided odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Statin use was prevalent (age 65-75 y: 46.0%, 76 y or more: 31.6%). For both age groups, nearly all resident-level variables evaluated were associated with any and high-intensity statin use and 3 facility-level variables (ie, higher proportions of Black residents, skilled nursing care provided, and average number of medications per resident) were associated with increased odds of statin use. Although in residents aged 65-75 years, no associations were observed, residents aged 76 years or older located in hospital referral regions (HRRs) with the highest health care utilization had higher odds of statin use than those in nursing homes in HRRs with the lowest health care utilization.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest extensive geographic variation in US statin prescribing across HRRs, especially for those aged 76 years or older. This variation may reflect clinical uncertainty given the largely absent guidelines for statin use in nursing home residents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Decision-Making*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Geography, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • United States


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors