Discharge planning for the elderly can potentially reduce patient length of hospital stay, prevent rehospitalization, enhance patient outcomes and lessen the burden of care on the families. While increased numbers of elderly are being discharged earlier, there is little data on the process and effects of discharge planning protocols developed specifically for this population. The proposed study will attempt to answer the following questions regarding hospitalized elderly with selected DRG classifications: Are there significant differences between elderly patients who receive the hospital's general discharge planning procedure used for all categories of patients and elderly who receive the hospital's general discharge planning procedure plus a comprehensive discharge planning protocol specific to the elderly and implemented by a gerontological nurse specialist in : a) Patient Outcomes (length of initial hospitalization; post-discharge morbidity; post-discharge health services; functional status; mental status; satisfaction with care; self-esteem; patient's perception of health status; and stress level) b) Family Related Outcomes (primary care giver's functional status; mental status; care giving demands; stress level and family functioning) c) Cost of Care Outcomes (charges for initial hospitalization, rehospitalizations, post-discharge health services; family related costs; and gerontological nurse specialist costs) The study design is a randomized clinical trial with a total of 280 elderly (2 groups of 140). The control group will receive routine discharge planning plus an elder specific comprehensive discharge planning protocol. Data analysis will include frequency distributions and summary statistics. For each of the research questions, multivariate analysis of variance or chi square statistics will b use.

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National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
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Nursing Research Study Section (NURS)
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University of Pennsylvania
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