Variables affecting hospital length of stay: a scoping review.
J Health Organ Manag. 2018 May 21;32(3):463-493
Authors: Buttigieg SC, Abela L, Pace A
Purpose Tertiary hospitals have registered an incremental rise in expenditure mostly because of the increasing demands by ageing populations. Reducing the length of stay (LOS) of patients within tertiary hospitals is one of the strategies, which has been used in the last decades to ensure health care systems' sustainability. Furthermore, LOS is one of the key performance indicators, which is widely used to assess hospital efficiency. Hence, it is crucial that policy makers use evidence-based practices in health care to aim for optimal LOS. The purpose of this paper is to identify and summarize empirical research that brings together studies on the various variables that directly or indirectly impact on LOS within tertiary hospitals so as to develop a LOS causal systems model. Design/methodology/approach This scoping review was guided by the following research question: "What is affecting the LOS of patients within tertiary-level health care?" and by the guidelines specified by Arksey and O'Malley (2005), and by Armstrong et al. (2011). Relevant current literature was retrieved by searching various electronic databases. The PRISMA model provided the process guidelines to identify and select eligible studies. Findings An extensive literature search yielded a total of 30,350 references of which 46 were included in the final analysis. These articles yielded variables, which directly/indirectly are linked to LOS. These were then organized according to the Donabedian model - structure, processes and outcomes. The resultant LOS causal model reflects its complexity and confirms the consideration by scholars in the field that hospitals are complex adaptive systems, and that hospital managers must respond to LOS challenges holistically. Originality/value This paper illustrates a complex LOS causal model that emerged from the scoping review and may be of value for future research. It also highlighted the complexity of the construct under study.
PMID: 29771210 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]