The Urban-Rural Disparity in Nursing Home Quality Indicators: The Case of Facility-Acquired Contractures

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Quality of care, disparities, rural, nursing homes, contractures, decomposition

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Objective: To identify and quantify the sources of the urban-rural disparity in facility-acquired contracture rates in nursing homes.

Data Sources: Survey inspection data of U.S. nursing homes from 1999 to 2008 and standardized national rural definition file from the Rural-Urban Commuting Area Codes.

Study Design: We estimated regressions of facility-level contracture rate as a function of urban-rural categories (urban, micropolitan, small rural town, and isolated small rural town) and other related facility characteristics to identify size of the urban-rural disparity. We used Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition techniques to determine the extent to which the disparity is attributable to the differences in facility and aggregate resident characteristics.

Principal Findings: Rural nursing homes have higher contracture rates than urban nursing homes. About half of the urban-rural disparity is explained by differences in observable characteristics among urban and rural nursing homes. Differences in staffing levels explain less than 5 percent of the disparity, case-mix explains 6–8 percent, and structure and operational characteristics account for 10–22 percent of the disparity.

Conclusion: While a lower level and quality of staffing are a concern for rural nursing homes, facility structure and funding sources explain a larger proportion of the urban-rural disparity in the quality of care.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Health Services Research, v. 48, issue 1, p. 47-69