Assessing Vulnerability and Healthcare Utilization in Older Adults
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Purpose: The purpose of this capstone project was to evaluate the feasibility of using the Vulnerable Elders Survey (VES-13) to identify vulnerable patients during primary care office visits and to determine the impact of vulnerability on healthcare utilization. Background: Functional decline in older adults can lead to higher healthcare utilization, increased costs, and increased morbidity and mortality. Methods: Dependent variables included the number of emergency department, inpatient, and office visits in the past 12 months. The independent variables included the VES-13 score, number of chronic comorbidities, Medicaid status, age, and sex. A weighted score for utilization was created and the analytic strategy was to compare variables using independent t-tests and correlations. Results: Fifty-two participants were included in this study. The VES-13 score and utilization were both normally distributed. The relationship between the number of chronic comorbidities and VES-13 score was statistically significant. VES-13 scores, comorbidities, and age were not significantly related to weighted utilization, and weighted utilization did not differ significantly by sex or Medicaid status. Conclusions and Implications: Factors related to healthcare utilization include women, Medicaid users, and a higher VES-13 score. This tool can identify those at risk for hospitalization to better target interventions toward this population.