Identification of Needs of and Utilization of Resources by Rural and Urban Elders After Hospital Discharge to the Home

Authors

  • Alyce A. Schultz R.N., Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. Alyce A. Schultz is Nurse Researcher, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine.
      Address correspondence to Alyce A. Schultz, R.N., Ph.D., Maine Medical Center, 22 Bramhall Street Portland, ME 04102.
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Address correspondence to Alyce A. Schultz, R.N., Ph.D., Maine Medical Center, 22 Bramhall Street Portland, ME 04102.

Abstract

Abstract The recent reductions in lengths of hospital stays may particularly affect the elderly in rural communities where resources may be scarce. The purpose of this descriptive, comparative study was to assess and evaluate the match of formal and informal resources with individual functional, behavioral, knowledge, and skilled care needs of rural and urban elderly during a 21-day transition period following hospital discharge to the home. Eighty-one elderly patients discharged to one urban and two frontier rural counties were selected. There were no significant differences in demographic variables between rural and urban participants. The Comprehensive Health Care Needs Assessment (CHCNA) questionnaire was used to assess needs and utilization of resources at 3 days and 3 weeks after discharge. Using repeated measure analyses of variance, there were significantly fewer needs identified at 3 weeks than at 3 days after discharge. Rural dwellers identified significantly more skilled care needs than their urban counterparts; however, none were highly technical in nature. Unexpectedly, at 3 weeks after discharge, considerably more functional needs were met by families in the urban setting than in the rural setting. Although only a small number of participants reported unmet needs in multiple domains, the complexity of the unmet needs requires further exploration.

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