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Use of high cost care among Veterans with comorbid mental illness and Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias.

Shepherd-Banigan M, Miller KEM, Hastings SN, Schleiden LJ, Thorpe JM. Use of high cost care among Veterans with comorbid mental illness and Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. PLoS ONE. 2023 May 12; 18(5):e0282071.

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INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVE: Alzheimer's Disease and Other Related Dementias (AD/ADRD) leads to frequent emergency department (ED) and inpatient use. Mental health symptoms among persons with AD/ADRD increases cognitive and functional disabilities and could contribute to these high rates of intensive health care use. The objective of this paper is to assess the relationship of mental illness on 12-month patterns in hospitalization and ED use among Veterans aged 65 and over with a new AD/ADRD diagnosis. METHODS: We used an existing dataset of administrative electronic health record data of Veterans with AD/ADRD from the US Veterans Health Administration linked with Medicare claims data from 2011-2015. We use multivariable logistic regression to examine the association between no pre-existing mental illness, pre-existing mental illness (e.g., major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder), and pre-existing severe mental illness-or SMI-(e.g., bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder with psychosis, or schizophrenia) and 12- month ED and hospitalization use and readmissions among Veterans who had an initial hospitalization visit. We estimated predicted probabilities, differential effect, and associated 95% confidence intervals. RESULTS: In our sample, 1.4% had SMI and 11% had non-SMI mental illness. The unadjusted percentage with inpatient and ED use was higher among Veterans with SMI (34% and 26%, respectively) and Veterans with non-SMI mental illness (20%, 16%) compared with Veterans without pre-existing mental illness (12%, 9%). Compared to individuals with no pre-existing mental illness, having a pre-existing mental illness (1.27 percentage points, 95% CI: 0.76, 1.78) and a pre-existing SMI (7.17 percentage points, 95% CI: 5.66, 8.69) were both associated with an increased likelihood of ED use. The same pattern was observed for any inpatient use (mental illness 2.18, 95% CI: 1.59, 2.77; SMI 9.91, 95% CI: 8.21, 11.61). Only pre-existing SMI was associated higher hospitalization readmission. DISCUSSION: Pre-existing mental illness increases use of high cost, intensive health care and this association is higher of more severe mental health conditions. We also show that pre-existing mental illness exerts a unique influence, above and beyond other comorbidities, such as diabetes, on ED and inpatient visits. More needs to be done to increase recognition of the unique risks of this combination of health conditions and encourage strategies to address them. Developing, testing, and implementing comprehensive strategies that address the intersection of ADRD and mental illness is promising approach that requires more focused attention.

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