Document Type : Original Article
Department of Public Health and Paediatrics, Università di Torino, Torino, Italy
Department of Control and Computer Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy
Epidemiology Unit, Local Health Unit TO3, Grugliasco (TO), Piedmont, Italy
Allowing patients to remain at home and decreasing the number of unnecessary emergency room visits have become important policy goals in modern healthcare systems. However, the lack of available literature makes it critical to identify determinants that could be associated with increased emergency department (ED) visits in patients receiving integrated home care (IHC).
A retrospective observational study was carried out in a large Italian region among patients with at least one IHC event between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2017. IHC is administered from 8 am to 8 pm by a team of physicians, nurses, and other professionals as needed based on the patient’s health conditions. A clinical record is opened at the time a patient is enrolled in IHC and closed after the last service is provided. Every such clinical record was defined as an IHC event, and only ED visits that occurred during IHC events were considered. Sociodemographic, clinical and IHC variables were collected. A multivariate, stepwise logistic analysis was then performed, using likelihood of ED visit as a dependent variable.
A total of 29 209 ED visits were recorded during the 66 433 IHC events that took place during the observation period. There was an increased risk of ED visits in males (odds ratio [OR] = 1.29), younger patients, those with a family caregiver (OR = 1.13), and those with a higher number of cohabitant family members. Long travel distance from patients’ residence to the ED reduced the risk of ED visits. The risk of ED visits was higher when patients were referred to IHC by hospitals or residential facilities, compared to referrals by general practitioners. IHC events involving patients with neoplasms (OR = 1.91) showed the highest risk of ED visits.
Evidence of sociodemographic and clinical determinants of ED visits may offer IHC service providers a useful perspective to implement intervention programmes based on appropriate individual care plans and broad-based client assessment.
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