Behavioral Health Comorbidities Linked with Higher Hospital Readmission Rates

DATE : November 06, 2020

Research recently released by the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA) suggests hospitalized patients with a behavioral health comorbidity are at an increased risk for readmission.

In a study of Massachusetts hospital inpatient discharge data from the state’s 2018 fiscal year, readmission rates for patients with any behavioral health comorbidity who were hospitalized in acute care facilities had nearly double the readmission rate of patients without a comorbid behavioral health condition, 20.4% vs. 10.5%. The difference was particularly stark in the 18-to-44 age range at 17.1% vs. 5.7%.

Among the study’s other findings:

  • 45% of hospitalized adult patients overall had at least one comorbid behavioral health condition, including 62% of Medicaid patients.

  • Anxiety (26%) and mood (25%) disorders were the most common comorbid mental health conditions found. Alcohol (9%) and opioid (6%) use disorders were the most prevalent comorbid substance use disorders.

  • Patients with a behavioral health comorbidity had a longer average length of hospital stay, 5.7 days vs. 4.3 days.

“Given the high hospital utilization and cost associated with comorbid behavioral health conditions, stakeholders share a growing awareness that the provision of quality behavioral health care is integral to any health system improvement program, including readmission reduction,” the researchers wrote.

The complete study is available on the CHIA website.


Written by Tom Valentino, Senior Editor, Psychiatry & Behavioral Health Learning Network, November 06, 2020