UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Factors Associated with Leaving Hospital against Medical Advice among People Who Use Illicit Drugs in Vancouver, Canada Ti, Lianping; Milloy, M-J; Buxton, Jane A.; McNeil, Ryan; Dobrer, Sabina; Hayashi, Kanna; Wood, Evan; Kerr, Thomas


Background Leaving hospital against medical advice (AMA) is common among people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) and is associated with severe health-related harms and costs. However, little is known about the prevalence of and factors associated with leaving AMA among PWUD. Methods Data were collected through two Canadian prospective cohort studies involving PWUD between September 2005 and July 2011 and linked to a hospital admission/discharge database. Bivariable and multivariable generalized estimating equations were used to examine factors associated with leaving hospital AMA among PWUD who were hospitalized. Results Among 488 participants who experienced at least one hospitalization, 212 (43.4%) left the hospital AMA at least once during the study period. In multivariable analyses, factors positively and significantly associated with leaving hospital AMA included: unstable employment (AOR = 1.92; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.22–3.03); recent incarceration (AOR = 1.63; 95%CI: 1.07–2.49); ≥ daily heroin injection (AOR = 1.49; 95%CI: 1.05–2.11); and younger age per year younger (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.04; 95%CI: 1.02–1.06). Conclusions We found a substantial proportion of PWUD in this setting left hospital AMA and that various markers of risk and vulnerability were associated with this phenomenon. Our findings highlight the need to address substance abuse issues early following hospital admission. These findings further suggest a need to develop novel interventions to minimize PWUD leaving hospital prematurely.

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