Original Research

Relationships Between Residence Characteristics and Nursing Home Compare Database Quality Measures



From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (Mr. Puckett and Dr. Ryherd), University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha (Dr. Manley), and the University of Nebraska, Omaha (Dr. Ryan).


Objective: This study evaluated relationships between physical characteristics of nursing home residences and quality-of-care measures.

Design: This was a cross-sectional ecologic study. The dependent variables were 5 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home Compare database long-stay quality measures (QMs) during 2019: percentage of residents who displayed depressive symptoms, percentage of residents who were physically restrained, percentage of residents who experienced 1 or more falls resulting in injury, percentage of residents who received antipsychotic medication, and percentage of residents who received anti-anxiety medication. The independent variables were 4 residence characteristics: ownership type, size, occupancy, and region within the United States. We explored how different types of each residence characteristic compare for each QM.

Setting, participants, and measurements: Quality measure values from 15,420 CMS-supported nursing homes across the United States averaged over the 4 quarters of 2019 reporting were used. Welch’s analysis of variance was performed to examine whether the mean QM values for groups within each residential characteristic were statistically different.

Results: Publicly owned and low-occupancy residences had the highest mean QM values, indicating the poorest performance. Nonprofit and high-occupancy residences generally had the lowest (ie, best) mean QM values. There were significant differences in mean QM values among nursing home sizes and regions.

Conclusion: This study suggests that residence characteristics are related to 5 nursing home QMs. Results suggest that physical characteristics may be related to overall quality of life in nursing homes.

Keywords: quality of care, quality measures, residence characteristics, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

More than 55 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD).1 With the aging of the Baby Boomer population, this number is expected to rise to more than 78 million worldwide by 2030.1 Given the growing number of cognitively impaired older adults, there is an increased need for residences designed for the specialized care of this population. Although there are dozens of living options for the elderly, and although most specialized establishments have the resources to meet the immediate needs of their residents, many facilities lack universal design features that support a high quality of life for someone with ADRD or mild cognitive impairment. Previous research has shown relationships between behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) and environmental characteristics such as acoustics, lighting, and indoor air temperature.2,3 Physical behaviors of BPSD, including aggression and wandering, and psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and delusions, put residents at risk of injury.4 Additionally, BPSD is correlated with caregiver burden and stress.5-8 Patients with dementia may also experience a lower stress threshold, changes in perception of space, and decreased short-term memory, creating environmental difficulties for those with ADRD9 that lead them to exhibit BPSD due to poor environmental design. Thus, there is a need to learn more about design features that minimize BPSD and promote a high quality of life for those with ADRD.10

Although research has shown relationships between physical environmental characteristics and BPSD, in this work we study relationships between possible BPSD indicators and 4 residence-level characteristics: ownership type, size, occupancy, and region in the United States (determined by location of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] regional offices). We analyzed data from the CMS Nursing Home Compare database for the year 2019.11 This database publishes quarterly data and star ratings for quality-of-care measures (QMs), staffing levels, and health inspections for every nursing home supported by CMS. Previous research has investigated the accuracy of QM reporting for resident falls, the impact of residential characteristics on administration of antipsychotic medication, the influence of profit status on resident outcomes and quality of care, and the effect of nursing home size on quality of life.12-16 Additionally, research suggests that residential characteristics such as size and location could be associated with infection control in nursing homes.17

Certain QMs, such as psychotropic drug administration, resident falls, and physical restraint, provide indicators of agitation, disorientation, or aggression, which are often signals of BPSD episodes. We hypothesized that residence types are associated with different QM scores, which could indicate different occurrences of BPSD. We selected 5 QMs for long-stay residents that could potentially be used as indicators of BPSD. Short-stay resident data were not included in this work to control for BPSD that could be a result of sheer unfamiliarity with the environment and confusion from being in a new home.


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