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Acute care of severely frail elderly patients in a CGA-unit is associated with less functional decline than conventional acute care

Niklas Ekerstad, Synneve Dahlin Ivanoff, Sten Landahl, Göran Östberg, Maria Johansson, David Andersson, Magnus Husberg, Jenny Alwin, Björn W Karlson
Clinical Interventions in Aging 2017, 12: 1239-1249
28848332

BACKGROUND: A high percentage of individuals treated in specialized acute care wards are frail and elderly. Our aim was to study whether the acute care of such patients in a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) unit is superior to care in a conventional acute medical care unit when it comes to activities of daily living (ADLs), frailty, and use of municipal help services.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A clinical, prospective, controlled trial with two parallel groups was conducted in a large county hospital in West Sweden and included 408 frail elderly patients, age 75 or older (mean age 85.7 years; 56% female). Patients were assigned to the intervention group (n=206) or control group (n=202). Primary outcome was decline in functional activity ADLs assessed by the ADL Staircase 3 months after discharge from hospital. Secondary outcomes were degree of frailty and use of municipal help services.

RESULTS: After adjustment by regression analyses, treatment in a CGA unit was independently associated with lower risk of decline in ADLs [odds ratio (OR) 0.093; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.052-0.164; P<0.0001], and with a less prevalent increase in the degree of frailty (OR 0.229; 95% CI 0.131-0.400; P<0.0001). When ADLs were classified into three strata (independence, instrumental ADL-dependence, and personal ADL-dependence), changes to a more dependence-associated stratum were less prevalent in the intervention group (OR 0.194; 95% CI 0.085-0.444; P=0.0001). There was no significant difference between the groups in increased use of municipal help services (OR 0.682; 95% CI 0.395-1.178; P=0.170).

CONCLUSION: Acute care of frail elderly patients in a CGA unit was independently associated with lesser loss of functional ability and lesser increase in frailty after 3 months.

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