Comparative 4-year risk and type of hospital admission among homeless and housed emergency department attendees: longitudinal study of hospital records in England 2013-2018

Link to article at PubMed

BMJ Open. 2021 Jul 26;11(7):e049811. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049811.


OBJECTIVES: People experiencing homelessness are frequent users of secondary care. Currently, there is no study of potentially preventable admissions for homeless patients in England. We aim to estimate the number of potentially preventable hospital admissions for homeless patients and compare to housed patients with similar characteristics.

DESIGN: Retrospective matched cohort study.

SETTING: Hospitals in England.

PARTICIPANTS: 16 161 homeless patients and 74 780 housed patients aged 16-75 years who attended an emergency department (ED) in England in 2013/2014, matched on the basis of age, sex, ED attended and primary diagnosis.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Annual counts of admissions, emergency admissions, ambulatory care-sensitive (ACS) emergency admissions, acute ACS emergency admissions and chronic ACS emergency admissions over the following 4 years (2014/2015-2017/2018). We additionally compare the prevalence of specific ACS conditions for homeless and housed patients.

RESULTS: Mean admissions per 1000 patients per year were 470 for homeless patients and 230 for housed patients. Adjusted for confounders, annual admissions were 1.79 times higher (incident rate ratio (IRR)=1.79; 95% CI 1.69 to 1.90), emergency admissions 2.08 times higher (IRR=2.08; 95% CI 1.95 to 2.21) and ACS admissions 1.65 times higher (IRR=1.65; 95% CI 1.51 to 1.80), compared with housed patients. The effect was greater for acute (IRR=1.78; 95% CI 1.64 to 1.93) than chronic (IRR=1.45; 95% CI 1.27 to 1.66) ACS conditions. ACS conditions that were relatively more common for homeless patients were cellulitis, convulsions/epilepsy and chronic angina.

CONCLUSIONS: Homeless patients use hospital services at higher rates than housed patients, particularly emergency admissions. ACS admissions of homeless patients are higher which suggests some admissions may be potentially preventable with improved access to primary care. However, these admissions comprise a small share of total admissions.

PMID:34312208 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-049811

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