Patients' income and where they live influence hospitalization for chronic lung disease

Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368

Low-income Americans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those who lived in rural areas or the South or Midwest in 2008 had the highest rates of hospitalization for symptoms of the disease, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. COPD is an incurable and often fatal disease that includes bronchitis, emphysema, or both. Nearly one out of every five patients 40 years and older hospitalized in the United States has a diagnosis of COPD, either as the main reason for the hospital stay or as a contributing illness. People with COPD periodically experience episodes—called "acute exacerbation"—in which breathing and other symptoms worsen rapidly and can require hospitalization.

According to the analysis by the Federal agency:

  • About 514,000 of the 822,500 hospitalizations primarily for COPD in 2008 were for patients with acute exacerbation.
  • Compared with 40-60 year olds, patients 65 to 74 years old and 75 to 84 years old were 6 times and 4.5 times respectively as likely to be hospitalized for acute exacerbation.
  • Rural Americans were 1.8 times more likely than residents in large urban areas to be hospitalized for acute exacerbation.
  • The hospitalization rate for low-income patients was 1.7 times higher than for patients from other income levels—533 stays per 100,000 people compared with 312 stays per 100,000 people.
  • Compared with the West, patients in the South and Midwest were 2 times more likely to be hospitalized for acute exacerbation and patients in the Northeast were 1.6 times as likely to be hospitalized.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Overview of Hospitalizations among Patients with COPD, 2008, available at Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) . The report uses data from the 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 95 percent of all discharges in the United States and include patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured. The report also includes regional population estimates.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at Bob.Isquith@ahrq.hhs.gov or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of April 2011
Internet Citation: Patients' income and where they live influence hospitalization for chronic lung disease: Research Activities, April 2011, No. 368. April 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr11/0411RA33.html