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American Medical Association

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JAMA Network Open

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Importance: The downward trend in readmissions has recently slowed. New enhancements to hospital readmission reduction efforts are needed. Structured assessment of patient readiness for discharge has been recommended as an addition to discharge preparation standards of care to assist with tailoring of risk-mitigating actions.

Objective: To determine the effect of unit-based implementation of readiness evaluation and discharge intervention protocols on readmissions and emergency department or observation visits.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The Readiness Evaluation and Discharge Interventions (READI) cluster randomized clinical trial conducted in medical-surgical units of 33 Magnet hospitals between September 15, 2014, and March 31, 2017, included all adult (aged ≥18 years) patients discharged to home. Baseline and risk-adjusted intent-to-treat analyses used difference-in-differences multilevel logistic regression models with controls for patient characteristics.

Interventions: Of 2 adult medical-surgical nursing units from each hospital, 1 was randomized to the intervention and 1 to usual care conditions. Using the 8-item Readiness for Hospital Discharge Scale, the 33 intervention units implemented a sequence of protocols with increasing numbers of components: READI1, in which nurses assessed patients to inform discharge preparation; READI2, which added patient self-assessment; and READI3, which added an instruction to act on a specified Readiness for Hospital Discharge Scale cutoff score indicative of low readiness.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Thirty-day return to hospital (readmission or emergency department and observation visits). Intervention units above median baseline readmission rate (>11.3%) were categorized as high-readmission units. Among the 33 intervention units, 17 were low-readmission units and 16 were high-readmission units.

Results: The sample included 144 868 patient discharges (mean [SD] age, 59.6 [17.5] years; 51% female; 74 605 in the intervention group and 70 263 in the control group); 17 667 (12.2%) were readmitted and 12 732 (8.8%) had an emergency department visit or observation stay. None of the READI protocols reduced the primary outcome of return to hospital in intent-to-treat analysis of the full sample. In exploratory subgroup analysis, when patient self-assessments were combined with readiness assessment by nurses (READI2), readmissions were reduced by 1.79 percentage points (95% CI, −3.20 to −0.40 percentage points; P = .009) on high-readmission units. With nurse assessment alone and on low-readmission units, results were mixed.

Conclusions and Relevance: Implemented in a broad range of hospitals and patients, the READI interventions were not effective in reducing return to hospital. However, adding a structured discharge readiness assessment that incorporates the patient’s own perspective to usual discharge care practices holds promise for mitigating high rates of return to the hospital following discharge.


Published version. JAMA Network Open, Vol. 2, No. 1 (January 2019): XX-XX. DOI. This article is © American Medical Associatio. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License.

Olga Yakusheva was affiliated with University of Michigan School of Nursing at the time of publication.

Kathleen L. Bobay was affiliated with Loyola University at the time of publication.

Ronda G. Hughes was affiliated with University of South Carolina College of Nursing at the time of publication.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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