Cover: The Hospital Care Experiences of Older Patients Compared to Younger Patients

The Hospital Care Experiences of Older Patients Compared to Younger Patients

Published in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 70, Issue 12 (December 2022), Pages 3570–3577. doi: 10.1111/jgs.18003

Posted on Dec 23, 2022

by Marc N. Elliott, Megan K. Beckett, Christopher W. Cohea, William Lehrman, Chelsea Russ, Paul Cleary, Laura Giordano, Elizabeth Goldstein, Debra Saliba


Hospitals may provide less positive patient experiences for older than younger patients.


We used 2019 HCAHPS data from 4,358 hospitals to compare patient-mix adjusted HCAHPS Survey scores for 19 experience of care items for patients ages 75+ versus 55–74 years and tested for interactions of age group with patient and hospital characteristics. We contrasted the age patterns observed for inpatient experiences with those among respondents to the 2019 Medicare CAHPS (MCAHPS) Survey of overall experience.


Patients 75+ years (31% of all HCAHPS respondents) reported less-positive experiences than those 55–74 (46% of respondents) for 18 of 19 substantive HCAHPS items (mean difference –3.3% points). Age differences in HCAHPS top-box scores were large (>5 points) for 1 of 3 Nurse Communication items, 1 of 3 Doctor Communication, 2 of 2 Communication about Medication items, 1 of 2 Discharge Information items, and 2 of 3 Care Transition items. In contrast, for MCAHPS, those 75+ reported similar experiences to younger adults.

The magnitude of age differences varied considerably across hospitals; some hospitals had very large age disparities for older patients (age 75+ vs. ages 55–74), while others had none. These age differences were generally smaller for patients in government and non-profit than in for-profit hospitals, and in the Pacific region than in other parts of the United States. This variation in age disparities across hospitals may help to identify best practices.


Patients ages 75+ reported less-positive experiences than patients ages 55–74, especially for measures of communication. These differences may be specific to inpatient care. Further study should investigate the effectiveness of hospital staffs' communication with older patients. Hospital protocols designed for younger patients may need to be adjusted to meet the needs of older patients. There may also be opportunities to learn from outpatient interactions with older patients.

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