October 01, 2020 | Press Release

Hospital Care in Denmark: More Geriatric Staff Needed by 2050

The researchers´ projection says that by 2050 more men than women aged 70 years and older will have to be treated in hospitals. © iStockphoto.com/monkeybusinessimages

The population is aging in high income countries, and the proportion of older people with major chronic conditions being treated in hospitals is growing. Therefore, the need for hospital care rises. In the case of Denmark, that demand will almost double between 2013 and 2050.

The demand for geriatric care in hospitals will rise in the next 30 years in European countries. In the case of Denmark the total number of hospital days per year is projected to rise by 42 percent between 2013 and 2050. In absolute numbers this means an increase from 4.66 to 6.72 million days.

This is what Anna Oksuzyan, research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany and colleagues show in their recent study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

For the Danish population up to 69 years old, small changes in hospital use are projected; the largest change is to occur for the population 70 years and older. In 2013 Danish men older than 70 years were hospitalized a combined total of 820,000 days, and women over 70 years were in hospital 930,000 days. By 2050, these levels are projected to have reached 1.94 million days for men and 1.84 million days for women over 70 years.

By 2050 almost 60 percent of hospital days may be used by people 70 and older

To estimate the hospital care in 2013 and project it to 2050, the researchers used population-based registers to analyze data covering administrative and medical information on inpatient and emergency admissions recorded in Danish hospitals in 2013. They estimated age- and sex-specific hospital care in 2013 and combined these with official Danish population estimates. "Assuming no changes in hospital care from 2013 to 2050, we forecasted the hospital care use up to 2050 with respect to age and sex", says Anna Oksuzyan.

The share of hospital days of people 70 and older increased almost 20 percent over the forecasted period. In 2013 this population accounted for 37 percent of all days, but their contribution to the total is projected to increase to 56 percent by 2050.

"Our findings provide an empirical basis to suggest that the Danish population will be in need of a healthcare workforce trained particularly in the field of geriatrics", says Anna Oksuzyan.

Original publication

Oksuzyan, A., Höhn, A., Pedersen, J.K., Lindahl-Jacobsen, R.: Preparing for the future: The changing demographic composition of hospital patients in Denmark between 2013 and 2015. PLOS ONE (2020) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238912

Author of the paper

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.