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Am J Public Health. 1990 Jan;80(1):39-46.

Post-hospital support program for the frail elderly and their caregivers: a quasi-experimental evaluation.

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School of Social Work and Community Planning, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201.


This paper evaluates the Post-Hospital Support Program for the frail elderly and their caregivers using a quasi-experimental design. The program goals were to reduce stress in the caregivers, improve functioning and reduce mortality in patients, and reduce health service utilization in patients. Subjects were patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, age 65 or over, who were returning home to the care of a non-paid caregiver and who had extensive post-hospital care needs which were expected to continue for at least one year. The 93 comparison group patient/caregiver pairs were discharged between May 15, 1983 and May 14, 1984. The 98 treatment group pairs were discharged between May 15, 1984 and May 14, 1985. Interviews were conducted with patients and caregivers at 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after discharge. Results showed a slight reduction in caregiver stress and a substantial reduction in hospital days used by the treatment group. When confounding and history effects are taken into consideration, an average difference of 6.5 days per patients remains. The data also suggest that the treatment program may have postponed some deaths and nursing home placements. The results suggest that support services for the frail elderly and their caregivers can be cost efficient by reducing hospital length-of-stay. Savings were estimated at $4,585 per patient per year in this study. However, further work is needed to design programs which more effectively reduce caregiver stress.

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