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Popul Health Manag. 2018 May 31. doi: 10.1089/pop.2018.0030. [Epub ahead of print]

Association Between Community Social Capital and Hospital Readmission Rates.

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1 Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health , New Haven, Connecticut.
2 Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative, Yale University , New Haven, Connecticut.
3 Office of the President, Vassar College , Poughkeepsie, New York.


Hospital readmissions remain frequent, and are partly attributable to patients' social needs. The authors sought to examine whether local community levels of social capital are associated with hospital readmission rates. Social capital refers to the connections among members of a society that foster norms of reciprocity and trust, which may influence the availability of support for postdischarge recovery after hospitalization. Associations between hospital-wide, risk-stratified readmission rates for hospitals in the United States (nā€‰=ā€‰4298) and levels of social capital in the hospitals' service areas were examined. Social capital was measured by an index of participation in associational activities and civic affairs. A multivariate linear regression model was used to adjust for hospital and community factors such as hospital financial performance, race, income, and availability of heath care services. Results showed that higher social capital was significantly associated with lower readmission rates (Pā€‰<ā€‰.01), a finding that held across income-stratified analyses as well as sensitivity analyses that included hospital performance on process quality measures and hospital community engagement activities. A hospital is unlikely to be able to influence prevailing levels of social capital in its region, but in areas of low social capital, it may be possible for public or philanthropic sectors to buttress the types of institutions that address nonmedical causes of readmission.


hospital readmissions; population health; social capital


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