Is social capital protective against hospital readmissions?


To evaluate the association between social capital and 30-day readmission to the hospital among Medicare beneficiaries overall, beneficiaries with dementia and related memory disorders, and beneficiaries with dual eligibility for Medicaid.


Using Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data linked with 2008-2015 Medicare claims from traditional Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized during the study period (1246 unique respondents, 2212 total responses), we examined whether dementia and related memory disorders and dual eligibility were associated with social capital. We then estimated a multiple regression model to test whether social capital was associated with a reduced likelihood of readmission.


Dementia was associated with an − 0.241 standard deviation (sd) change in social capital (95% CI: − 0.378, − 0.103), dual eligibility with a − 0.461 sd change (95% CI: − 0.611, − 0.310), and the occurrence of both was associated with an additional − 0.236 sd change (95% CI: − 0.525, − 0.053). 30-day readmission rates were 14.47% over the study period. In both adjusted and unadjusted models, social capital was associated with small and nonsignificant differences in 30-day readmissions. These effects did not vary across dementia status and socioeconomic status.


Dementia and dual eligibility were associated with lower social capital, but social capital was not associated with the risk of readmission for any population.