Rehabilitation After Hip Fracture--Equal Opportunity for All?

Published in: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, v. 77, no. 1, Jan. 1996, p. 58-63

by Helen Hoenig, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Katherine L. Kahn

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OBJECTIVES: To determine whether factors unrelated to clinical appropriateness affect use of physical and occupational therapy (PT/OT) in elderly Medicare patients with acute hip fracture. DESIGN: Bivariate and multivariate analysis of detailed clinical data retrospectively gathered from medical records and of nonclinical variables obtained through linkage with the American Hospital Association data base. SETTING: 297 randomly selected hospitals from 5 states. PATIENTS: 2,762 elderly Medicare patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of acute hip fracture who were hospitalized during 1981-1982 or 1985-1986. INTERVENTION: Observational study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Initiation and intensity of PT/OT while in the acute hospital. RESULTS: The authors found evidence that factors not relevant to clinical appropriateness, such as race, hospital size, and state, significantly affect whether patients receive any PT/OT after acute fracture, as well as the intensity of PT/OT. For example, after controlling for patient clinical characteristics, the authors found that 63% of African-American patients received low-intensity PT/OT in comparison to 43% among non-African-American, and they found threefold differences among states both in initiation of PT/OT and in the intensity of its use. Overall, clinical characteristics had relatively greater influence on whether patients started PT/OT, whereas factors not relevant to clinical appropriateness had relatively greater influence on how much rehabilitation was provided. CONCLUSION: There are significant disparities in use of rehabilitation after hip fracture, only partially explained by patient clinical characteristics. Factors without obvious relevance to the clinical appropriateness of PT/OT exert a significant influence on use of rehabilitation services, particularly on the intensity of their use.

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