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The association between receipt of home care rehabilitation services and acute care hospital utilization in clients with multimorbidity following an acute care unit discharge: a retrospective cohort study


Background — Individuals experiencing multimorbidity have more complex healthcare needs, use more healthcare services, and access multiple service providers across the healthcare continuum. They also experience higher rates of functional decline. Rehabilitation therapists are well positioned to address these functional needs; however, little is known about the influence of rehabilitation therapy on patient outcomes, and subsequent unplanned healthcare utilization for people with multimorbidity. The aims of this study were to: 1) describe and compare the characteristics of people with multimorbidity receiving: home care rehabilitation therapy alone, other home care services without rehabilitation therapy, and the combination of home care rehabilitation therapy and other home care services, and 2) determine the association between home care rehabilitation therapy and subsequent healthcare utilization among those recently discharged from an acute care unit.

Methods — This retrospective cohort study used linked health administrative data housed within ICES, Ontario, Canada. The cohort included long-stay home care clients experiencing multimorbidity who were discharged from acute care settings between 2007–2015 (N = 43,145). Descriptive statistics, ANOVA’s, t-tests, and chi-square analyses were used to describe and compare cohort characteristics. Multivariable logistic regression was used to understand the association between receipt of rehabilitation therapy and healthcare utilization.

Results — Of those with multimorbidity receiving long-stay home care services, 45.5% had five or more chronic conditions and 46.3% required some assistance with ADLs. Compared to people receiving other home care services, those receiving home care rehabilitation therapy only were less likely to be readmitted to the hospital (OR = 0.78; 95% CI: 0.73–0.83) and use emergency department services (OR = 0.73; 95% CI: 0.69–0.78) within the first 3-months following hospital discharge.

Conclusions — Receipt of rehabilitation therapy was associated with less unplanned healthcare service use when transitioning from hospital to home among persons with multimorbidity. These findings suggest rehabilitation therapy may help to reduce the healthcare burden for individuals and health systems. Future research should evaluate the potential cost savings and health outcomes associated with providing rehabilitation therapy services for people with multimorbidity.



Mofina A, Miller J, Tranmer J, Li W, Donnelly C. BMC Health Serv Res. 2023; 23(1):269. Epub 2023 Mar 18.

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