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Am J Med. 2001 Jul;111(1):38-44.

Hospice enrollment and hospitalization of dying nursing home patients.

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Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, Department of Community Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.



This study's purpose was to evaluate whether Medicare hospice care provided in nursing homes is associated with lower hospitalization rates.


This retrospective cohort study included nursing home residents in five states who enrolled in hospice between 1992 and 1996 (n = 9202), and who died before 1998. For each hospice patient, 3 nonhospice residents (2 in 106 instances) were chosen (n = 27,500). Medicare claims identified hospice enrollment and acute care hospitalizations.


Twenty-four percent of hospice and 44% of nonhospice residents were hospitalized in the last 30 days of life. Adjusting for confounders, hospice patients were less likely than nonhospice residents to be hospitalized (odds ratio 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.39 to 0.46). Considering all of nonhospice residents who died (n = 226,469), those in facilities with no hospice had a 47% hospitalization rate, whereas rates were 41% in facilities with low hospice use and 39% in facilities with moderate hospice use (5%+ of patients in hospice). Hospitalization was less likely for nonhospice residents in facilities with low hospice use (odds ratio 0.82; 95% CI: 0.80 to 0.84) and moderate hospice use (odds ratio 0.71; 95% CI: 0.69 to 0.74), compared with those in facilities with no hospice.


When integrated into the nursing home care processes, hospice care is associated with less hospitalization for Medicare hospice patients. Additionally, possibly through diffusion of palliative care philosophy and practices, nonhospice residents who died in nursing homes having a hospice presence had lower rates of end-of-life hospitalizations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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