Rural disparities in end-of-life care for patients with heart failure: Are they due to geography or socioeconomic disparity?

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The Journal of rural health : official journal of the American Rural Health Association and the National Rural Health Care Association


PURPOSE: The impact of rurality and socioeconomic deprivation on end-of-life (EOL) care for patients with heart failure (HF) is unknown. We analyzed claims to describe the prevalence and predictors of EOL health care utilization for patients dying with HF in a predominantly rural state. METHODS: We used the MaineHealth Data Organization's All-Payer Claims Data to identify 15,168 patients ≥35 who died with HF between 2012 and 2017. The primary outcome was health care utilization during the last 180 days of life (EOL definition for this analysis), including emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, and hospice utilization. Patient characteristics analyzed included age, gender, comorbidities, area deprivation index (ADI), and rurality. FINDINGS: Among 15,168 patients ≥35 who died with HF, 48% had ≥2 hospitalizations, 72% had ≥2 ED visit, 29% had an ICU stay, 2% initiated dialysis during EOL, and 64% received hospice. Rural patients were more likely to have an ICU admission and have ≥2 hospitalizations. Patients residing in areas with higher ADI were more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, and started on dialysis. Both rural patients and those living in higher ADI areas were less likely to receive hospice. After multivariable adjustment, rurality and ADI were independently associated with a decreased likelihood of receiving hospice (OR 0.62 [95% CI: 0.53-0.72] for the most rural patients and OR 0.64 [95% CI: 0.57-0.72] for the highest ADI). CONCLUSION: Both rurality and local area deprivation drive disparities in EOL care for patients dying with heart failure.

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