Age and sex differences in hospitalisation of nursing home residents: a systematic review

Hoffmann, F. & Allers, K. BMJ Open6:e011912

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Objectives: Nursing home residents (NHRs) are frequently suffering from multimorbidity, functional and cognitive impairment, often leading to hospital admissions. Studies have found that male NHRs are more often hospitalised. The influence of age is inconclusive. We aimed to investigate the epidemiology of hospitalisations in NHRs, particularly focusing on age-specific and sex-specific differences.

Design: A systematic review was performed in PubMed, CINAHL and Scopus. Quality of studies was assessed.

Setting: Studies conducted in nursing homes were included.

Participants: Nursing home residents.

Primary and secondary outcomes: Outcome measures were the prevalence, incidence or duration of all-cause hospitalisation by age or sex.

Results: We identified 21 studies, 13 were conducted in the USA. The proportion of residents being hospitalised ranged across studies from 6.8% to 45.7% for various time periods of follow-up. A total of 20 studies assessed the influence of sex and found that hospitalisations are more often in male NHRs. A total of 16 studies conducted multivariate analyses and the OR of hospitalisation for males was between 1.22 and 1.67. Overall, 18 studies assessed the influence of age. Some studies showed an increasing proportion of admissions with increasing age, but several studies also found decreasing hospitalisations above the age of about 80–85 years. 8 of 13 studies conducting multivariate analyses included age as a continuous variable. Only 1 study reported stratified analyses by age and sex. 2 studies investigating primary causes of hospitalisation stratified by sex found some differences in main diagnoses.

Discussion:Male NHRs are more often hospitalised than females, but reasons for that are not well investigated. The influence of age is less clear, but there seems to be no clear linear relationship between age and the proportion being hospitalised. Further studies should investigate age and sex differences in frequencies and reasons for hospitalisation in NHRs.

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