The Role of Depression and Social Support on Readmission Rates Within One Year of Traumatic Injury

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Objective: Hospital readmission rates have become a quality metric—particularly in trauma and acute care, where up to one third of individuals with traumatic injury return to the hospital. Thus, identifying predictors of readmission is a priority in an effort to reduce readmissions. Based on previous theoretical work, this study tests the utility of social support and depression in predicting readmissions up to one year after initial injury. Method: Data from 180 injured individuals admitted to a large, urban Level 1 trauma center were matched to a regional readmissions database. Logistic regression was used to assess whether social support levels or positive depression screens during initial trauma visit predicted unplanned (a) readmissions or (b) emergency/urgent outpatient visits. Results: Within the sample, there were 32 total readmissions and 50 total emergency outpatient encounters following initial injury. Depression continued to be a risk factor for emergency outpatient visits only (OR = 2.75). Patients with greater social integration (OR = 0.78), more guidance (advice or information; OR = 0.72) and more reliable alliance (OR = 0.72) as forms of social support were less likely to readmit. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the utility of screening for depression and social support in predicting readmission within one year after traumatic injury. Future efforts should continue emphasizing the impact of initial depression and the need for patients to have trusted individuals in their lives to whom they can turn during recovery; doing so may lower the probability that patients return to hospital.

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