Mental health conditions and hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions among veterans with diabetes

Drew A. Helmer, Nilanjana Dwibedi, Mazhgan Rowneki, Chin Lin Tseng, Dennis Fried, Danielle Rose, Nisha Jani, Usha Sambamoorthi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Veterans with diabetes and mental health conditions have a higher risk for suboptimal care and complications related to their diseases than veterans with diabetes who do not have mental health conditions. We hypothesized that among veterans with diabetes, patients with mental health conditions are more likely to be hospitalized for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSC) than those without mental health conditions. OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between depression, anxiety, and serious mental illness and hospitalizations for ACSC among veterans with diabetes after controlling for demographics and comorbidities. METHODS: We used a retrospective cohort design with merged Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Medicare electronic health records from 2008 to 2010. Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Health Services Use was used to select the variables associated with hospitalizations for ACSC (ie, predisposing, enabling and need characteristics, personal health practices, and external environment). We used chisquare tests and logistic regressions for our analyses. RESULTS: Among the dual VHA/Medicare-enrolled veterans with any hospitalization in 2010, 30% had hospitalizations for ACSC. Veterans with diabetes and co-occurring depression were at increased likelihood to be hospitalized for ACSC, after adjusting for all other covariates (adjusted odds ratio, 1.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-1.11). Similar findings were observed for anxiety. Veterans with serious mental illness were as likely as veterans without serious mental illness to be hospitalized for ACSC. CONCLUSION: Veterans with depression and anxiety were more likely to be hospitalized for any or acute ACSC than veterans without mental health conditions. Patients hospitalized for acute ACSC were more susceptible than patients hospitalized for chronic ACSC to have mental health conditions. As the VHA continues to evolve from care provider to community care payer (per the Veterans Affairs MISSION Act), our results highlight the ongoing importance of care coordination and communication between payers and providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Health and Drug Benefits
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Ambulatory care sensitive conditions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Medicare
  • Mental health conditions
  • Preventable hospitalization
  • Veterans
  • Veterans Health Administration


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