Rationale: Efforts to reduce 30-day readmission have mostly concentrated on addressing deficiencies in care transitions and outpatient management after discharge. There is growing evidence to suggest that physical inactivity is associated with increased hospitalizations.
Objectives: We examined whether or not a potentially modifiable factor such as regular physical activity at baseline was associated with lower risk of 30-day readmission in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Patients from a large integrated health system were included in this retrospective cohort study if they were hospitalized for COPD (following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and National Quality Forum proposed criteria) and discharged between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012, aged 40 years or older, on a bronchodilator or steroid inhaler, alive at discharge, and continuously enrolled in the health plan 12 months before the index admission and at least 30 days post discharge. Our main outcome was 30-day all-cause readmission. Regular physical activity was routinely assessed at the time of all outpatient visits and expressed as the total minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per week.
Measurements and Main Results: The sample included a total of 4,596 patients (5,862 index admissions) with a mean age of 72.3 ± 11 years. The 30-day readmission rate was 18%, with 59% of readmissions occurring in the first 15 days. Multivariate adjusted analyses showed that patients reporting any level of MPVA had a significantly lower risk of 30-day readmission compared with inactive patients (1-149 min/wk of MVPA: relative risk, 0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.55-0.81; ≥150 min/wk of MVPA: relative risk, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.51-0.87). Other significant independent predictors of increased readmission included anemia, prior hospitalizations, longer lengths of stay, more comorbidities, receipt of a new oxygen prescription at discharge, use of the emergency department or observational stay before the readmission (all, P < 0.05), and being unpartnered (P = 0.08).
Conclusions: Our findings further support the importance of physical activity in the management of COPD across the care continuum. Although it is possible that lower physical activity is a reflection of worse disease, promoting and supporting physical activity is a promising strategy to reduce the risk of readmission.