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Living alone linked to greater risk of hospital stay

People who live alone are more at risk of being admitted to hospital and staying there longer.

Professor Jane Hall, of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation (CHERE) at the University of Technology, Sydney, said living alone increases the probability of hospital admission by about 3 per cent and the length of stay by almost four days, among people aged 45 and older.

“If you’re living with someone, there’s someone to make it easier… though that doesn’t mean we think everybody should be forced to live with somebody,” Hall said. “It does mean trying to think about how services can pick up vulnerable people earlier and provide them with the sort of support that will improve their quality of life, improve their health outcomes, while at the same time placing fewer demands on the health system.”

Co-researcher economist Chunzhou Mu said for each extra year of living alone, the likelihood of hospital admission rises by 0.29 percentage points, while the length of stay increases by 0.4 days.

The findings used data from the 2009 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

The researchers also found that people living alone after separation or divorce are more likely to be admitted to hospital, whereas people who were never married were most likely to stay there longer after presentation.

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