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Patients' perceptions of frequent hospital admissions: a qualitative interview study with older people above 65 years of age

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Although 'frequent flyer' hospital admissions represent barely 3 to 8% of the total patient population in a hospital, they are responsible for a disproportionately high percentage (12 to 28%) of all admissions. Moreover, hospital admissions are an important contributor to health care costs and overpopulation in various hospitals. The aim of this research is to obtain a deeper insight into the phenomenon of frequent flyer hospital admissions. Our objectives were to understand the patients' perspectives on the cause of their frequent hospital admissions and to identify the perceived consequences of the frequent flyer status. METHODS: This qualitative study took place at the University Hospital of Leuven. The COREQ guidelines were followed to provide rigor to the study. Patients were included when they had at least four overnight admissions in the past 12 months, an age above 65 years and hospital admission at the time of the study. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and encoded in NVivo. RESULTS: Thirteen interviews were collected. A total of 17 perceived causes for frequent hospital admission were identified, which could be divided into the following six themes: patient, drugs, primary care, secondary care, home and family. Most of the causes were preventable or modifiable. The perceived consequences of being a frequent flyer were divided into the following six themes: body, daily life functioning, social participation, mental status and spiritual dimension. Negative experiences were linked to frequent flying and could be situated mainly in the categories of social participation, mental status and spiritual dimensions. CONCLUSIONS: Frequent hospital admissions may be conceived as an indicator, i.e., a 'red flag', of patients' situations characterized by physical, mental, spiritual and social deprivation in their home situation.
Journal: BMC Geriatrics
Issue: 1
Volume: 20
Number of pages: 12
Publication year:2020