Of the nearly 700 stoke patients, approximately 18 percent were rehospitalized during the three months following discharge. Patients with better motor and cognitive abilities at rehabilitation discharge were less likely to be rehospitalized; conversely, those reporting more depressive symptoms and/or lower levels of social support were most likely to be readmitted. Dr. Ottenbacher identified social support as being one of the most important predictors identified because it can be factored into discharge plans and used to identify patients who could benefit from services designed to prevent hospital readmission, such as home health services. This is a significant finding, as information on patients' social support is not currently included in data sets that could influence health policy, he said. In white patients, signs of depression increased the risk of rehospitalization by 21 percent. However, minorities with depressive symptoms had a five percent lower risk of being readmitted. The difference was diminished when the researchers adjusted their analyses to account for racial and ethnic variables, such as disease comorbidity, and the study's small sample size of minority patients. "Though this disparity did not hold up in our study after adjusting for sample size, we were surprised by the preliminary finding and believe it is an important topic for future research in a larger minority population," said Dr. Ottenbacher. Factors determining which kind of post-acute-care services a person with stroke receives, such as nursing home care versus in-home assistance, are complex and may also impact rehospitalization rates - another aspect Dr. Ottenbacher plans to include in future research. Finally, he notes that because this study focused on stroke patients only, the findings need to be examined in other patients to determine if the same factors offer predicative value across other conditions.