The decision-making capacity of elderly hospitalized patients: validation of a test on their choice of return home

Geriatr Psychol Neuropsychiatr Vieil. 2018 Mar 1;16(1):39-48. doi: 10.1684/pnv.2017.0710.


Elderly hospitalized patients have uncertain or questionable capacity to make decisions about their care. Determining whether an elderly patient possesses decision-making capacity to return at home is a major concern for geriatricians in everyday practice. To construct and internally validate a new tool, the dream of home test (DROM-test), as support for decision making hospitalization discharge destination for the elderly in the acute or sub-acute care setting. The DROM-test consists of 10 questions and 4 vignettes based upon the 4 relevant criteria for decision-making: capacity to understand information, to appreciate and reason about medical risks and to communicate a choice. A prospective observational study was conducted during 6 months in 2 geriatric care units in Bretonneau Hospital (Assistance publique, Hôpitaux de Paris). We compared the patient decision of DROM-test regarding discharge recommendations with those of an Expert committee and of the team in charge of the patient. 102 were included: mean age 83.1 + 6.7 [70; 97], 66.67% females. Principal components analysis revealed four dimensions: choice, understanding, reasoning and understanding. The area under the ROC curve was 0.64 for the choice dimension, 0.59 for the understanding, 0.53 for the reasoning and 0.52 for the apprehension. Only the choice dimension was statistically associated with the decision of the committee of experts (p=0.017). Even though Drom-test has limitations, it provides an objective way to ascertain decision-making capacity for hospitalised elderly patients.

Keywords: capacity assessment; decision-making capacity; dementia; elderly; return home.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Decision Making*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Patient Discharge