• “Hospital at Home”;
  • caregiver;
  • stress;
  • aged;
  • hospital care;
  • acute care for the elderly

OBJECTIVES: To compare differences in the stress experienced by family members of patients cared for in a physician-led substitutive Hospital at Home (HaH) and those receiving traditional acute hospital care.

DESIGN: Survey questionnaire completed as a component of a prospective, nonrandomized clinical trial of a substitutive HaH care model.

SETTING: Three Medicare managed care health systems and a Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred fourteen community-dwelling elderly patients who required acute hospital admission for community-acquired pneumonia, exacerbation of chronic heart failure, exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or cellulitis.

INTERVENTION: Treatment in a substitutive HaH model.

MEASUREMENTS: Fifteen-question survey questionnaire asking family members whether they experienced a potentially stressful situation and, if so, whether stress was associated with the situation while the patient received care.

RESULTS: The mean and median number of experiences, of a possible 15, that caused stress for family members of HaH patients was significantly lower than for family members of acute care hospital patients (mean ± standard deviation 1.7 ± 1.8 vs 4.3 ± 3.1, P<.001; median 1 vs 4, P<.001). HaH care was associated with lower odds of developing mean levels of family member stress (adjusted odds ratio=0.12, 95% confidence interval=0.05–0.30).

CONCLUSION: HaH is associated with lower levels of family member stress than traditional acute hospital care and does not appear to shift the burden of care from hospital staff to family members.