Spatial association patterns between postacute care services and acute care facilities in the United States

Panayiotis D. Ziakas, Eleftherios Mylonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: There is increasing demand for post-acute care services, which is amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aims: We studied the pattern of spatial association between post-acute care services and acute care facilities and evaluated how geographic variability could influence their use. Methods: We compiled data on CMS-certified acute care and critical access hospitals and post-acute health care services (nursing homes, home health care services, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, long-term care hospitals, and hospice facilities). We used the colocation quotient (CLQ) to measure the magnitude and direction of association (clustering or segregation) between post-acute care providers and hospitals. This metric allows pairwise comparison of categorical data; a value <1 indicates spatial segregation and a value >1 spatial clustering. Unity marks the lack of spatial dependence (random distribution). Results: With the exception of nursing homes (CLQ 1.26), all other types of post-acute care providers are spatially segregated from rural critical access hospitals. Long-term care facilities ranked first (had the lowest global CLQ, 0.06), hospice facilities ranked last (had the highest global CLQ estimate, 0.54). Instead, post-acute care services either clustered with (inpatient rehabilitation 2.76, long-term care 2.10, nursing homes 1.37) or were only weakly segregated (home health care 0.86) from acute care hospitals. Home health care (1.44), hospice services (1.46), and nursing homes (1.08) spatially clustered with the same category of services. Results were robust in the sensitivity analysis and we provided illustrative examples of local variation for the states of MA and IA. Conclusion: Post-acute care services are isolated from critical access hospitals, and have a clustering pattern with the same category services and acute care hospitals. Such misdistribution of resources may result in both underuse and a substitution effect on the type of post-acute care between rural and urban areas and undermine public health during increasing demand, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0240624
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial association patterns between postacute care services and acute care facilities in the United States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this