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J Palliat Med. 2008 Nov;11(9):1249-57. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2008.0124.

Predictors of hospice utilization among acute stroke patients who died within thirty days.

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  • 1Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and Meriter Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin 53726, USA.



Hospice is considered to be underutilized, particularly among patients with noncancer diagnoses such as stroke. The highest mortality among stroke patients occurs within the first 30 days; however, we know little about the hospice enrollment decision for this population during this critical time frame.


To determine hospice enrollment rates and to describe sociodemographic and clinical predictors of hospice utilization among patients who die within 30 days of their stroke.


Retrospective analysis of administrative data.


Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older discharged with ischemic stroke from 422 hospitals and 11 metropolitan regions during the year 2000 who died within 30 days of their stroke.


Hospice utilization within 30 days.


The overall hospice enrollment rate in our study was 23%. Using multivariable logistic regression, factors predicting increased hospice enrollment included older age, female gender, health management organization (HMO) membership, length of stay more than 3 days, and dementia. Factors predicting decreased enrollment included African American race, mechanical ventilation, gastrostomy tube placement, uncomplicated diabetes mellitus, and valvular disease. When in-hospital deaths were excluded, overall enrollment increased to 44%, and mechanical ventilation and dementia ceased to predict enrollment.


Hospice enrollment rates among patients who die within the first 30 days of their stroke, particularly among those who survive to discharge, are much higher than prior estimates suggest. Although overall enrollment rates were higher than anticipated, there remain important sociodemographic and clinical characteristics unique to this population that predict low hospice utilization that should serve as targets for further research and intervention.

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