A Cross-Sectional Survey of Internal Medicine Residents' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Current Practices Regarding Patient Transitions to Post-Acute Care

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2021 Nov;22(11):2344-2349. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2021.02.011. Epub 2021 Mar 19.


Objectives: Prior studies have found suboptimal knowledge about post-acute care (PAC) among inpatient providers and poor communication at discharge that can lead to unsafe discharge transitions, but little is known about residents and the PAC transition. The aim of this study is to assess internal medicine residents' knowledge, attitudes, and current practice regarding patient transitions to PAC.

Design: A multisite, cross-sectional 36-question survey.

Setting and participants: Internal Medicine and Medicine-Pediatrics residents at 3 university-based Internal Medicine training programs in the United States.

Methods: Survey delivered electronically to residents in 2018 and 2019. Survey responses were described by collapsing 4-point Likert responses into dichotomous variables, and thematic content analysis was used to evaluate free text responses.

Results: Of 482 residents surveyed, 236 responded (49%). Despite high reported confidence in their ability to transition patients to PAC, only 31% of residents knew how often patients received skilled therapies at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and 23% knew how frequently nursing services are provided. The majority of residents (79%) identified the discharge summary as the main way they communicated care instructions to the SNF, but only 55% reported always completing it prior to discharge. Upper-level residents were more likely to know how much therapy patients received at a SNF, but resident knowledge about PAC did not vary by residency year in other domains. Residents who experienced a clinical rotation at a SNF had higher levels of knowledge compared to residents who did not.

Conclusions: This national survey of internal medicine residents identified common knowledge gaps regarding PAC. These knowledge gaps did not improve throughout residency without deliberate exposure to PAC environments. This suggests a need for dedicated curriculum development as discharges to PAC continue to rise exponentially.

Keywords: Post-acute care; discharge communication; internal medicine residents; transitions of care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Patient Transfer
  • Subacute Care*
  • United States