Geographic Proximity of Family Members and Healthcare Utilization After Complex Surgical Procedures

Ann Surg. 2022 Oct 1;276(4):720-731. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005584. Epub 2022 Jul 15.


Objective: We sought to determine the relationship between a patient's proximal familial social support, defined as the geographic proximity of family members, and healthcare utilization after complex cardiovascular and oncologic procedures.

Background: Social support mechanisms are increasingly identified as modifiable risk factors for healthcare utilization.

Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 60,895 patients undergoing complex cardiovascular procedures or oncologic procedures. We defined healthcare utilization outcomes as 30-day all-cause readmission unplanned readmission, nonindex hospital readmission, index hospital length of stay, and home discharge disposition. For each patient, we aggregated the number of first-degree relatives (FDR) living within 30 miles of the patient's home address at the time of the surgical procedure into the following categories: 0 to 1, 2 to 3, 4 to 5, 6+ FDRs. We developed hierarchical multivariable regression models to determine the relationship between the number of FDR living within 30 miles of the patient and the healthcare utilization outcomes.

Results: Compared with patients with 0 to 1 FDRs, patients with 6+ FDRs living in close proximity had significantly lower rates of all-cause readmission (12.1% vs 13.5%, P <0.001), unplanned readmission (10.9% vs 12.0%, P =0.001), nonindex readmission (2.6% vs 3.2%, P =0.003); higher rates of home discharge (88.0% vs 85.3%, P <0.001); and shorter length of stay (7.3 vs 7.5 days, P =0.02). After multivariable adjustment, a larger number of FDRs living within 30 miles of the patient was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of all-cause readmission ( P <0.001 for trend), 30-day unplanned readmission ( P <0.001), nonindex readmission ( P <0.001); higher likelihood of home discharge ( P <0.001); and shorter index length of stay ( P <0.001).

Conclusions: The geographic proximity of family members is significantly associated with decreased healthcare utilization after complex cardiovascular and oncologic surgical procedures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Family
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors