Transition, discharge, older adults, transitional care, post discharge coping difficulty, diabetes, discharge readiness


Over 5 million older adults with diabetes are hospitalized each year. Though typically not the index condition that leads to hospitalization, diabetes control often decompensates during the course of an admission and necessitates changes in home self-management plans. The specific transitional care needs of older adults with diabetes have been largely unstudied. Transition theory provided the guiding framework for this research and proposes that each transition is a complex process created by the continuous interaction of personal, community, and societal-level conditions that facilitate or inhibit the health of a transition. Hospitalization has been described as a series of three successive, interrelated transitions. The aims of this study were to determine whether personal and community transition conditions impacted the early and intermediate post-discharge outcomes in a sample of older adults with diabetes. A simultaneous quantitative/qualitative mixed method design was used to identify factors that impacted the home recovery transition experiences in a sample of 96 older adults with a mean age of 75 years. A supplementary content analysis of free-response data gathered during administration of the Post-Discharge Coping Difficulty Scale (PDCDS) clarified difficulties encountered by elders and caregivers during in the first 30 days following discharge. Four overarching themes emerged: "the daily stuff is difficult"; "engineering care at home is difficult"; "life is stressful" and "difficulty managing complex health problems". Difficulties managing a complex medication regimen, regulating blood glucose, and managing a non-diabetes chronic health problem such as hypertension and chronic lung disease were subthemes that emerged during qualitative data analyses. These subthemes were transposed into discrete nominal level variables and served as additional indicators of post-discharge coping difficulty in the descriptive correlational core component of the research project. Participants in this study who experienced an event of recidivism had lower pre-discharge assessments of readiness on the Readiness for Hospital Discharge Scale (RHDS) (t = 2.274, df = 48, p =.028). Higher PDCDS scores were observed in patients who experienced an event of recidivism within 30 days of discharge (t = -3.363, df=24.7, p = .003) and also in respondents who described difficulties with managing medications, controlling diabetes, and managing a chronic illness. Binary logistic regression was used to identify factors that may predict recidivism risk. No condition-specific predictor variables were identified. A statistically significant three-variable model (X2 = 26.737, df = 3, p < .001) revealed that PDCDS scores at 7 days (Wald X2 =3.671, df = 1, p =.050), PDCDS scores at 30 days (Wald X2 = 6.723, df = 1, p =.010), and difficulty managing a chronic health condition (Wald X2 = 8.200, df = 1, p =.004) were predictive of an event of recidivism within 30 days of discharge. Difficulty managing a chronic health problem other than diabetes was particularly predictive of recidivism. The nurse's skill in delivering discharge education was a factor in limiting early postdischarge difficulties. Elders with residual information needs on the day of discharge as measured by scores the Quality of Discharge Teaching Scale (QDTS) reported a lower readiness for discharge (r = -.314, p = .003) and experienced greater difficulties with early post-discharge coping (r =. 288, p = .023). Greater satisfaction with the post-discharge transition was noted in participants with higher QDTS scores (r = .444, p < .001). Outcomes of the hospital-to-home transition experience were impacted by a variety of personal, hospital, and community factors. Findings of this study suggest that there is a need to better understand the sequential nature of the home recovery transition and the fluid needs of older adults during this high-risk phase of care. The environments in which older adults receive post-discharge care are complex and need to be thoroughly considered when planning the postdischarge transition. Metrics of institutional performance of transitional care practices need to extend beyond events to recidivism and include evaluations of post-discharge coping and transition satisfaction. The nurse as the primary provider of discharge education has the potential to significantly promote positive transition outcomes for older adults and their family care providers.


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Graduation Date





Bushy, Angeline


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Nursing



Degree Program









Release Date

August 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Nursing, Nursing -- Dissertations, Academic

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Nursing Commons