The Association Between Life-Space and Health Care Utilization in Older Adults with Heart Failure

Alexander X. Lo*, Kellie L. Flood, Richard E. Kennedy, Vera Bittner, Patricia Sawyer, Richard M. Allman, Cynthia J. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Life-space is associated with adverse health outcomes in older adults, but its role in health care utilization among individuals with heart failure is not well understood. We examined the relationship between life-space and both emergency department (ED) utilization and hospitalization. Methods: Participants were community-dwelling older adults with a verified diagnosis of heart failure who completed a baseline in-home assessment and at least one follow-up telephone interview. Life-space was measured at baseline and at follow-up every 6 months for 8.5 years. Poisson models were used to determine the association between life-space, measured at the beginning of each 6-month interval, and health care utilization, defined as ED utilization or hospitalization in the immediate ensuing 6 months, adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical confounders. Results: A total of 147 participants contributed 259 total health care utilization events involving an ED visit or a hospital admission. Multivariate analysis demonstrated an inverse association between life-space and health care utilization, where a clinically significant 10-point difference in life-space was independently associated with a 14% higher rate of ED utilization or hospitalization (incidence rate ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.04-1.26, p = .004). Conclusions: Life-space may be a useful identifier of community-dwelling older adults with heart failure at increased risk of ED visits or hospital admissions in the ensuing 6 months. Life-space may therefore be a potentially important component of intervention programs to reduce health care utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1442-1447
Number of pages6
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Health care utilization
  • Heart failure
  • Life-space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging


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