BACKGROUND: Identifying older adults with reduced physical performance at the time of hospital admission can significantly affect patient management and trajectory. For example, such patients could receive targeted hospital interventions such as routine mobilisation. Furthermore, at the time of discharge, health systems could offer these patients additional therapy to maintain or improve health and prevent institutionalisation or readmission. The principle aim of this study was to identify predictors for persisting, reduced physical performance in older adults following acute hospitalisation.
METHODS: This was a prospective cohort study that enrolled 117 medical patients, ages 65 or older, who were admitted to a short-stay unit in a Danish emergency department. Patients were included in the study if at the time of admission they performed ≤8 repetitions in the 30-s Chair-Stand Test (30s-CST). The primary outcome measure was the number of 30s-CST repetitions (≤ 8 or >8) performed at the time of follow-up, 34 days after admission. Potential predictors within the first 48 h of admission included: age, gender, ability to climb stairs and walk 400 m, difficulties with activities of daily living before admission, falls, physical activity level, self-rated health, use of a walking aid before admission, number of prescribed medications, 30s-CST, and the De Morton Mobility Index.
RESULTS: A total of 78 (67%) patients improved in physical performance in the interval between admission and follow-up assessment, but 76 patients (65%) had persistent reduced physical performance when compared to their baseline (30s-CST ≤ 8). The number of potential predictors was reduced in order to create a simplified prediction model based on 4 variables, namely the use of a walking aid before hospitalisation (score = 1.5), a 30s-CST ≤ 5 (1.8), age > 85 (0.1), and female gender (0.6). A score > 1.8 identified 78% of the older adults who continued to have reduced physical performance following acute hospitalisation.
CONCLUSION: At the time of admission, the variables of age, gender, walking aid use, and a 30s-CST score ≤ 5 enabled clinicians to identify 78% of older adults who had persisting reduced physical performance following acute hospitalisation.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02474277 . (12.10.2014).