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Home or Residential Care? The Role of Behavioral and Psychosocial Factors in Determining Discharge Outcomes for Inpatients with Huntington's Disease


Background: The progressive nature of Huntington's disease (HD) means that families often struggle to cope with increasing care needs of their affected family member. As a result, individuals with HD are likely to be at risk of hospitalization and subsequent early placement into residential care facilities. Objective: To explore which factors were associated with early residential care placement in a group of hospitalized patients with HD. Methods: A retrospective, systematic medical file audit of a neurological inpatient unit was conducted. Fifty-nine patients with HD were admitted from the community between January 2008 and December 2011; of these, 31 patients were discharged home while 28 patients required discharge to a residential care facility. These two groups were compared on a range of demographic, clinical and psychosocial variables identified as precipitating the hospital admission. Group comparisons were performed using t-tests and chi-square tests with Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons. Results: A higher proportion of men were placed in residential care than were able to return home (p = 0.045); and the group placed in residential care had longer inpatient hospital stays (p < 0.001). Groups did not differ in age, medications or disease duration. We found that psychosocial difficulties (p < 0.001) and behavioral problems (p = 0.001), but not physical, cognitive, or psychiatric factors, significantly differentiated the groups. Conclusions: Patients with HD discharged to residential care were more likely to have psychosocial and behavioral problems, and lengthy hospital stays. These findings indicate the need for community-based psychosocial and behavior management interventions aimed at preventing residential care admissions for persons with HD.