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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Feb;59(2):193-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03239.x. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Functional recovery of elderly patients hospitalized in geriatric and general medicine units. The PROgetto DImissioni in GEriatria Study.

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  • 1Unit of Geriatrics, Azienda Ospedaliera S. Giovanni-Addolorata, Rome, Italy.



To investigate the characteristics of patients who regain function during hospitalization and the differences in terms of functional outcomes between patients admitted to geriatric and general medicine units.


Multicenter, prospective cohort study.


Acute care geriatric and medical wards of five Italian hospitals.


One thousand forty-eight elderly patients hospitalized for acute medical diseases.


Functional status 2 weeks before hospital admission (baseline), at admission, and at discharge, as measured using the Barthel Index (BI).


Geriatric patients were older (P<.001) and had lower preadmission functional levels (P<.001) than medical patients. Between baseline and discharge, 43.2% of geriatric and 18.9% of medical patients declined in physical function. In the subpopulation of 464 patients who had declined before hospitalization (between baseline and admission), 59% improved during hospitalization (45% of geriatric and 75% of medical patients), whereas only approximately 1% declined further. High baseline function (odds ratio (OR)=1.03, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.02-1.04, per point of BI) and greater functional decline before hospitalization (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.94-0.97, per % point of BI decline) were significant predictors of in-hospital functional improvement; type of hospital ward and age were not.


Although geriatric patients have overall worse functional outcomes, in-hospital functional recovery may be frequent even in geriatric units, particularly in patients with greater preadmission functional loss and high baseline level of function.

© 2011, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2011, The American Geriatrics Society.

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