Functional Status Outperforms Comorbidities as a Predictor of 30-Day Acute Care Readmissions in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Population


Health Promotion

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Journal of the American Medical Directors Association

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OBJECTIVES: Functional status is associated with patient outcomes, but is rarely included in hospital readmission risk models. The objective of this study was to determine whether functional status is a better predictor of 30-day acute care readmission than traditionally investigated variables including demographics and comorbidities.

DESIGN: Retrospective database analysis between 2002 and 2011.

SETTING: 1158 US inpatient rehabilitation facilities.

PARTICIPANTS: 4,199,002 inpatient rehabilitation facility admissions comprising patients from 16 impairment groups within the Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation database.

MEASUREMENTS: Logistic regression models predicting 30-day readmission were developed based on age, gender, comorbidities (Elixhauser comorbidity index, Deyo-Charlson comorbidity index, and Medicare comorbidity tier system), and functional status [Functional Independence Measure (FIM)]. We hypothesized that (1) function-based models would outperform demographic- and comorbidity-based models and (2) the addition of demographic and comorbidity data would not significantly enhance function-based models. For each impairment group, Function Only Models were compared against Demographic-Comorbidity Models and Function Plus Models (Function-Demographic-Comorbidity Models). The primary outcome was 30-day readmission, and the primary measure of model performance was the c-statistic.

RESULTS: All-cause 30-day readmission rate from inpatient rehabilitation facilities to acute care hospitals was 9.87%. C-statistics for the Function Only Models were 0.64 to 0.70. For all 16 impairment groups, the Function Only Model demonstrated better c-statistics than the Demographic-Comorbidity Models (c-statistic difference: 0.03-0.12). The best-performing Function Plus Models exhibited negligible improvements in model performance compared to Function Only Models, with c-statistic improvements of only 0.01 to 0.05.

CONCLUSION: Readmissions are currently used as a marker of hospital performance, with recent financial penalties to hospitals for excessive readmissions. Function-based readmission models outperform models based only on demographics and comorbidities. Readmission risk models would benefit from the inclusion of functional status as a primary predictor.


readmission, functional status, patient outcomes, rehabilitation