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Increasing comorbidity and health services utilization in older adults with prior stroke


Objective — To characterize comorbid chronic conditions, describe health services use, and estimate healthcare costs among community-dwelling older adults with prior stroke.

Methods — This is a retrospective cohort study using administrative data from Ontario, Canada. We identified all community-dwelling individuals aged 66 and over on April 1, 2008 (baseline), who had experienced a stroke at least 6 months prior. We estimated the prevalence of 14 comorbid conditions at baseline; we captured all physician visits, emergency department visits, hospital admissions, home care contacts, and associated costs over 5 years stratifying by number of comorbid conditions. Where possible, we distinguished between health services use for stroke- and non-stroke-related reasons.

Results — A total of 29,673 individuals met our criteria. Only 1% had no comorbid conditions, while 74.9% had 3 or more. The most common conditions were hypertension (89.8%) and arthritis (65.8%); 5 other conditions had a prevalence of 20% or more (ischemic heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and dementia). Use of all health services doubled with increasing comorbidity and was largely attributed to non-stroke-related reasons. Total and per-patient costs increased with comorbidity. Main cost drivers shifted from physician and home care visits to hospital admissions with greater comorbidity.

Conclusions — Our findings demonstrate the importance of community-based patient-centered care strategies for stroke survivors that address their range of health needs and prevent more costly acute care use.



Gruneir A, Griffith LE, Fisher K, Panjwani D, Gandhi S, Sheng L, Patterson C, Gafni A, Ploeg J, Markle-Reid M. Neurology. 2016; 87(20):2091-8.

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