Preparing for the future: The changing demographic composition of hospital patients in Denmark between 2013 and 2050

Anna Oksuzyan, Andreas Höhn, Jacob Krabbe Pedersen, Roland Rau, Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen, Kaare Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Population aging will pose huge challenges for healthcare systems and will require a promotion of positive attitudes towards older people and the encouragement of careers in geriatrics to attract young professionals into the field and to meet the needs of a rapidly growing number of old-aged patients. We describe the current demographic profile of hospital care use in Denmark and make projections for changes in the patient profile up to 2050.

METHODS: The Danish population in 2013 (N = 5.63 million) was followed up for inpatient and emergency admissions recorded in Danish hospitals in 2013 using population-based registers. We combined age- and sex-specific hospital care use in 2013 with official population estimates to forecast the profile of hospital days up to 2050 with respect to age and sex.

RESULTS: The total number of hospital days per year is projected to increase by 42% between 2013 and 2050, from 4.66 to 6.72 million days. While small changes are projected for the population aged 0-69, the largest change is projected to occur for the population aged 70+. The 2013 levels were 0.82 and 0.93 million days for men and women aged 70+, respectively. By 2050, these levels are projected to have reached 1.94 and 1.84 million days. While the population aged 70+ accounted for 37.5% of all days in 2013, its contribution is projected to increase to 56.2% by 2050.

CONCLUSION: Our study shows one possible scenario for changes in the hospital days due to population aging by 2050: Assuming no changes in hospital care use over the forecast period, the absolute contribution of individuals aged 70+ to the total hospital days will more than double, and the relative contribution of persons aged 70+ will account for nearly 60% of all hospital days by 2050, being largest among men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0238912
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


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