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Does lack of social support lead to more ED visits for older adults?

      Abstract

      Objective

      The goals of this study were to (1) determine whether level of social support and living situation predicted emergency department (ED) use among older adults and (2) identify correlates of ED visits according to whether the patient was admitted to the hospital.

      Methods

      Secondary analysis of a longitudinal, prospective study was conducted.

      Results

      In adjusted analyses, subjects who lived alone were 60% more likely to visit the ED than those who lived solely with their spouse. Neither type nor level of social support as measured by the Duke Social Support Index predicted ED use. Indicators of poor physical health (prior hospitalization, poorer self-rated health, and functional disability) were predictors of ED visits that resulted in hospitalization; however, these were not significantly associated with outpatient ED visits.

      Discussion

      Older adults who live alone are more likely to visit the ED. Additional study is needed to understand the determinants of outpatient ED visits.
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