High prevalence of anxiety symptoms in hospitalized geriatric patients

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2001 Jul;16(7):690-3. doi: 10.1002/gps.405.


Objective: To examine the prevalence of anxiety symptoms in hospitalized geriatric patients.

Design: Controlled cross-sectional study.

Subjects: Ninety-eight geriatric in-patients and 68 healthy home-dwelling controls of similar age recruited from senior citizen centres.

Outcome measure: Anxiety measured as a current emotional state by Spielberger's State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI).

Results: The geriatric patients scored significantly higher than the controls. Applying Spielberger's recommended cut-off of 39/40 on the STAI sumscore, 41% of the female and 47% of the male geriatric patients might be suspected of suffering from significant anxiety symptoms. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease tended to score higher; otherwise no relationship was found between the STAI sumscore and type of chronic somatic disease, nor between the STAI sumscore and number of drugs in regular use.

Conclusions: STAI proved feasible for use in the elderly. The scoring on the STAI is high in geriatric in-patients. Further studies are needed to clarify to what extent this relates to a high prevalence of anxiety disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results