Emergency department visits and hospitalizations (EDVH) place a large burden on patients and the health care system. The presence of informal caregivers may be beneficial for reducing EDVH among patients with specific diagnoses. Our objective was to determine whether the presence of an informal caregiver was associated with the occurrence of an EDVH among clients 50 years of age or older.
Using a database accessed through the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), we identified 479 adults over 50 years of age who received home care in Toronto, Canada. Exposure variables were extracted from the interRAI health assessment form completed at the time of admission to the CCAC. EDVH data were linked to provincial records through the CCAC database. Data on emergency room visits were included for up to 6 months after time of admission to home care. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with the occurrence of an EDVH.
Approximately half of all clients had an EDVH within 180 days of admission to CCAC home care. No significant association was found between the presence of an informal caregiver and the occurrence of an EDVH. Significant factors associated with an EDVH included: Participants having a poor perception of their health (adjusted OR = 1.68, 95% CI: 1.11–2.56), severe cardiac disorders (adjusted OR = 1.54, 95% CI: 1.04–2.29), and pulmonary diseases (adjusted OR = 1.99, 95% CI: 1.16–3.47).
The presence of an informal caregiver was not significantly associated with the occurrence of an EDVH. Future research should examine the potential associations between length of hospital stay or quality of life and the presence of an informal caregiver. In general, our work contributes to a growing body of literature that is increasingly concerned with the health of our aging population, and more specifically, health service use by elderly patients, which may have implications for health care providers.