The Impact of Peer Support on the Risk of Future Hospital Readmissions among Older Adults with a Medical Illness and Co-Occurring Depression

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hospitalization, readmission, peer support, disparities, depression

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Older adults account for 60% of all preventable hospital readmissions. Although not all readmissions are preventable, evidence indicates that up to 75% of hospital readmissions can be prevented with enhanced patient education, pre-discharge assessment, and effective care upon discharge. Social support, specifically peer support, after discharge from hospital may be a crucial factor in minimizing the risk of preventable hospital readmission. The pilot study reported here evaluated the relationship between peer support and hospital readmissions in a sample of depressed older adults (N = 41) who were recently discharged from hospital due to a medical condition and who simultaneously had an untreated mental health diagnosis of depression. As hypothesized, participants who received the 3-month long peer support intervention were significantly less likely to be readmitted compared to those who did not receive the intervention. Findings from this preliminary information suggest that peer support is a protective factor that can positively affect patient outcomes, reduce the risk of hospital readmission, and reduce depressive symptoms among older adults with health and behavioral health comorbidities.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Social Sciences, v. 7, issue 9, p. 156