Prevalence of Hospital-Associated Disability in Older Adults: A Meta-analysis

Academic Article


  • Objectives: Hospital-associated disability (HAD), defined as loss of independence in activities of daily living (ADL) following acute hospitalization, is observed among older adults. The study objective is to determine overall prevalence of HAD among older adults hospitalized in acute care, and to assess the impact of study initiation year in moderation of prevalence. Design: Meta-analysis of data collected from randomized trials, quasi-experimental, and prospective cohort studies. English-language searches to identify included studies were completed February 2018 and updated May 2018 of electronic databases and reference lists of studies and reviews. Included studies were human subjects investigations that measured ADL ≥2 time points before or during and after hospitalization and reported prevalence of ADL decline among older adults. Setting: Acute care hospital units. Participants: Adults aged ≥65 years hospitalized in medical-surgical acute care; total sample size across all included studies was 7375. Methods: Independence in ADL was assessed using the Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living and Barthel Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living. Results: Random effects meta-analysis across included studies identified combined prevalence of HAD as 30% (95% CI 24%, 33%; P < .001). The effect of study initiation year on the prevalence rate was minimal. A large amount of heterogeneity was observed between studies, which may be due in part to nonstandardized measurement of ADL impairment or other methodological differences. Conclusions and implications: Hospitalization in acute care poses a significant risk to functional independence of older adults, and this risk is unchanged despite shorter lengths of stay. The evidence supports the continued need for hospital-based programs that provide assessment of functional ability and identification of at-risk older adults in order to better treat and prevent HAD.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Loyd C; Markland AD; Zhang Y; Fowler M; Harper S; Wright NC; Carter CS; Buford TW; Smith CH; Kennedy R
  • Start Page

  • 455
  • End Page

  • 461.e5
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 4