Travel Time and Choice of Facility Affect Frequency of Family, Friends’ Visits to Nursing Homes

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022
Contact: Ellen Mullally

Visits from family and friends are important to nursing home residents, but the rate of these engagements vary. A new study in the July issue of JAMDA looked at factors impacting the frequency of visits; the findings indicate an association between involvement in nursing home choice and visit probability. The authors also suggested that to improve visitation, future studies should focus on better understanding the psychological factors associated with visits.

In Who Visits Relatives in Nursing Homes? Predictors of at Least Weekly Visiting, researchers also found that travel time to and from the nursing home has a “substantively and statistically significant negative association on visits for all age groups.” Additionally, they determined that younger women are more likely to visit than younger men. 

In addition to travel time, barriers to visitation may include transportation access, psychological issues (e.g., feelings of guilt), the health of the visitor and/or the resident, relationships between the visitor and the staff, and the employment/financial situation of the visitor. However, the authors found that only involvement level in choice of facility and travel time were significant factors linked to visitation frequency among all age groups.

The authors stated, “The variations in visitation behavior occurred despite the high value most nursing home residents place on family involvement. Evidence suggests that family involvement may contribute to improved strategies for symptom management, preservation of residents’ interpersonal networks, and residents’ increased social engagement.” They further noted that helping families create meaningful roles for themselves may improve resident quality of life, as well as reduce staff burnout. Family visits can be particularly important, they stressed, if the family perceives a need to supplement the care provided by the nursing home.

The study was conducted by researchers at the LaFollette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; and Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, iTEQC Research Program, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editors for an interview, please email





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.


About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.