Very Mild Dementia and Medical Comorbidity Independently Predict Health Care Use in the Elderly

Ellen Grober, Amy Sanders, Charles B. Hall, Amy R. Ehrlich, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether dementia status and medical burden were independent predictors of emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations in older patients from an urban geriatric practice participating in a primary care based cognitive screening program. Participants and Methods: A comprehensive chart review was conducted for 300 African American and Caucasian patients, including 46 with prevalent dementia and 28 with incident dementia using the Cumulative Illness Burden Scale. Hospital-based claims data was used to retrieve ED visits and hospital admissions for 5 years following baseline assessment. Results: Patients with dementia had a 49% higher rate of ED visits (IRR = 1.49; 95% CI = 1.06, 2.09) and an 83% higher risk of death than patients without dementia (HR = 1.83; 95% CI = 3.07, 0.03). Dementia status predicted hospital admissions after adjustment for medical burden (IRR = 1.37; 95% CI = 0.99, 1.89). For each one point increase in medical burden, there was an 11% increase in ED visits (IRR = 1.11; 95% CI = 1.06, 1.16), a 13% increase in hospital admissions (IRR = 1.13; 95% CI = 1.09, 1.17), and an 11% higher risk of death (HR = 1.11; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.17). Age did not predict utilization. Conclusion: Dementia status and medical burden were independent predictors of ED visits and death in patients with clinically diagnosed dementia followed from the early stage of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012



  • acute care utilization
  • dementia
  • emergency department visits
  • hospitalizations
  • primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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