Patients with strong social support spend less time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility

social support family

Social support from family and friends is very important to us, especially when we have illness.

In a recent study, researchers find that patients with strong social support spend less time in an inpatient rehabilitation facility after hospitalization. The finding is published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Researchers from University of Texas conducted the study. They tried to describe patients’ shorter- and longer-than-expected lengths of stay in inpatient rehabilitation, and examine the effects of social support on the lengths of stay.

A total of 119,437 patients received Medicare fee-for-service took part in the study. They were discharged from inpatient rehabilitation facilities in 2012 after stroke, lower extremity fracture, or lower extremity joint replacement.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services posts annual expected lengths of stay based on patients’ clinical profiles at admission.

Researchers divided length into 3 groups: short, expected and long. Social support was also included 3 groups: family/friends, paid/other and none.

The result showed that on average, people with joint replacement stayed 10 days in rehab centers, people with fracture stayed 14 days in rehab centers, and people with stroke stayed 16 days in rehab centers.

Compared with people with support from family/friends, people with paid/other support were associated with higher odds of long stays in joint replacement.

In addition, lack of social support (no social support) was associated with lower odds of short stays in all 3 patient groups and higher odds of long stays in fracture and joint replacement.

Researchers suggest that social support can affect patients’ rehabilitation experiences and outcomes. Strong support from friends and family members may help patients recover better.

Therefore, it may be true that sometimes the best medicine is the care of family and friends.

Citation: Lewis ZH, et al. (2016). Social support and actual versus expected length of stay in inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, published online. DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2016.06.005.
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