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This study was undertaken to identify demographic, clinical, and social risk factors for early readmission in the veteran population. Readmissions within 30 days of discharge were considered "early." A randomly selected 50 percent sample of 6,317 veterans discharged consecutively from one Department of Veterans Affairs medical center (VAMC) was used to build a logistic regression model for early readmission. Of these patients, 22 percent had early readmissions. The adjusted odds ratios (OR) of greater magnitude for early readmission (p less than .05) were associated with discharge from a geriatrics/intermediate care bed (OR = 2.75 relative to medical ward), discharge diagnosis of a chronic disease (OR = 2.03-2.67 relative to acute or self-limiting disorders), and two or more surgical procedures performed during the index admission (OR = 1.87 relative to no surgery). Increasing distance from the VA hospital and increasing age also added readmission risk (OR = 1.18 and 1.10, respectively). Length of stay and the social risk factors of marital status and place of disposition were not sufficiently predictive to enter the model. The model was validated successfully on the second 50 percent sample of patients. We conclude that clinical and demographic factors are more predictive of early readmission than are social factors. Early readmission models could be used to improve VA discharge planning and to focus quality assurance and utilization review efforts on providers whose early readmission rates exceed those predicted by the models.