BACKGROUND: thirty to sixty per cent of older patients experience functional decline after hospitalisation, associated with an increase in dependence, readmission, nursing home placement and mortality. First step in prevention is the identification of patients at risk.
OBJECTIVE: to develop and validate a prediction model to assess the risk of functional decline in older hospitalised patients.
DESIGN: development study: cohort study (n = 492). Validation study: secondary data analysis of a cohort study (n = 484) in an independent population. Both with follow-up after 3 months. Functional decline was defined as a decline of at least one point on the Katz ADL index at follow-up compared with pre-admission status.
SETTING: development study: general internal medicine wards of two university hospitals and one regional hospital. Validation study: general internal wards of an university hospital.
SUBJECTS: patients ≥65 years acutely admitted and hospitalised for at least 48 h.
RESULTS: thirty-five per cent of all patients in the development cohort and 32% in the validation cohort developed functional decline. A four-item model could accurately predict functional decline with an AUC of 0.71. At threshold 2 sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values were 87, 39, 43 and 85%, respectively. In the validation study, this was, respectively, 0.68, 89, 41, 41 and 89%.
CONCLUSION: pre-admission need for assistance in instrumental activities of daily living, use of a walking device, need for assistance in travelling and no education after age 14, are the items of a prediction model to identify older patients at risk for functional decline following hospital admission. The strength of the model is that it relies on four simple questions and this makes it easy to use in clinical practice and easy to administer.