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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2004 Jan;19(1):27-34.

Poor mental and physical health differentially contributes to disability in hospitalized geriatric patients of different ages.

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Division of Internal Medicine I-Geriatric Unit, Spedali Civili-OP Richiedei, Department of Medical and Surgery Sciences, University of Brescia, Italy.



To evaluate the relationship between depressive symptoms, cognition and somatic diseases on functional status of geriatric patients at hospital discharge.


Patients 65+ years consecutively admitted to the acute care geriatric ward of the Internal Medicine Department I, Civil Hospital of Brescia, Italy, from February 1998 to December 2000 (n = 830) were examined. Functional disability was defined as need of physical assistance in at least one of the basic Activities of Daily Living (ADL). The Greenfield Index of Disease Severity (IDS) and the Geriatric Index of Comorbidity (GIC) were used to measure number and severity of diseases. The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) assessed cognitive status and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) measured depressive symptoms.


Prevalence of functional disability at discharge was 29.3% in the younger age group (65-74 years) and 55.2% in the older age group (75+ years). Using logistic regression models, older age, poorer cognitive status, and depressive symptoms were independently associated with functional disability in the younger and older age group, respectively. Additionally cognitive impairment and depressive symptoms showed an additive association with disability, especially in younger patients, while comorbidity was correlated with functional status only in the oldest old, in particular among those who were cognitively impaired.


Functional disability after acute hospitalization is highly prevalent in geriatric patients. Depressive symptoms, comorbidity, and cognitive impairment often coexist, interact and are differentially associated with function depending on age. Considering that depressive symptoms are a modifiable problem, their detection in hospital settings may help clinicians in targeting subjects at high risk of functional disability.

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