Decisions to forgo hospitalization in advanced dementia: A nationwide study

Susan L. Mitchell, Joan M. Teno, Orna Intrator, Zhanlian Feng, Vincent Mor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To examine the prevalence and factors associated with decisions to forgo hospitalization in nursing home (NH) residents with advanced dementia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: All Medicare- and Medicaid-certified NHs within the 48 contiguous U.S. states. PARTICIPANTS: NH residents with advanced dementia were identified using Minimum Data Set (MDS) assessments completed close to April 1, 2000 (N=91,521). MEASUREMENTS: Multilevel, multivariate logistic regression identified factors independently associated with having a do-not-hospitalize (DNH) directive. Independent variables included subject characteristics (MDS), facility factors (On-line Survey of Certification of Automated Records), and hospital referral region (HRR) features (Dartmouth Atlas). RESULTS: Nationwide, 7.1% (n=6,518) residents with advanced dementia had DNH orders (range 0.7% in Oklahoma to 25.9% in Rhode Island). Resident characteristics associated with having a DNH order were older age, white, living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and total functional dependence. Controlling for these factors, DNH orders were more likely in residents of facilities with the following features: not part of a chain, urban location, special care dementia unit, fewer black residents, nurse practitioner or physician assistant on staff, higher staffing ratios, and location in HRRs with fewer intensive care unit admissions during terminal hospitalizations. CONCLUSION: Directives to forgo hospitalization for U.S. NH residents with advanced dementia are uncommon and are associated with the organizational features of the facilities caring for them and the intensity of end-of-life care practiced in the region, as well as individual resident characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-438
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Dementia
  • Hospitalization
  • Nursing home
  • Palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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