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Keywords:

  • patient readmission;
  • exercise;
  • health promotion;
  • frail elderly

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effect of an exercise-based model of hospital and in-home follow-up care for older people at risk of hospital readmission on emergency health service utilization and quality of life.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Tertiary metropolitan hospital in Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred twenty-eight patients (64 intervention, 64 control) with an acute medical admission, aged 65 and older and with at least one risk factor for readmission (multiple comorbidities, impaired functionality, aged ≥75, recent multiple admissions, poor social support, history of depression).

INTERVENTION: Comprehensive nursing and physiotherapy assessment and individualized program of exercise strategies and nurse-conducted home visit and telephone follow-up commencing in the hospital and continuing for 24 weeks after discharge.

MEASUREMENTS: Emergency health service utilization (emergency hospital readmissions and visits to emergency department, general practitioner (GP), or allied health professional) and health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short Form Survey (SF-12v2) collected at baseline and 4, 12, and 24 weeks after discharge.

RESULTS: The intervention group required significantly fewer emergency hospital readmissions (22% of intervention group, 47% of control group, P=.007) and emergency GP visits (25% of intervention group, 67% of control group, P<.001). The intervention group also reported significantly greater improvements in quality of life than the control group as measured using SF-12v2 Physical Component Summary scores (F (3, 279)=30.43, P<.001) and Mental Component Summary scores (F (3, 279)=7.20, P<.001).

CONCLUSION: Early introduction of an individualized exercise program and long-term telephone follow-up may reduce emergency health service utilization and improve quality of life of older adults at risk of hospital readmission.