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Comorbidity and thirty-day hospital readmission odds in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a comparison of the Charlson and Elixhauser comorbidity indices.


BACKGROUND:Readmissions following exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are prevalent and costly. Multimorbidity is common in COPD and understanding how comorbidity influences readmission risk will enable health systems to manage these complex patients. OBJECTIVES:We compared two commonly used comorbidity indices published by Charlson and Elixhauser regarding their ability to estimate readmission odds in COPD and determine which one provided a superior model. METHODS:We analyzed discharge records for COPD from the Nationwide Readmissions Database spanning 2010 to 2016. Inclusion and readmission criteria from the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program were utilized. Elixhauser and Charlson Comorbidity Index scores were calculated from published methodology. A mixed-effects logistic regression model with random intercepts for hospital clusters was fit for each comorbidity index, including year, patient-level, and hospital-level covariates to estimate odds of thirty-day readmissions. Sensitivity analyses included testing age inclusion thresholds and model stability across time. RESULTS:In analysis of 1.6 million COPD discharges, readmission odds increased by 9% for each half standard deviation increase of Charlson Index scores and 13% per half standard deviation increase of Elixhauser Index scores. Model fit was slightly better for the Elixhauser Index using information criteria. Model parameters were stable in our sensitivity analyses. CONCLUSIONS:Both comorbidity indices provide meaningful information in prediction readmission odds in COPD with slightly better model fit in the Elixhauser model. Incorporation of comorbidity information into risk prediction models and hospital discharge planning may be informative to mitigate readmissions.

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