Prevalence and Risk Factors of Dehydration Among Nursing Home Residents: A Systematic Review

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2018 Aug;19(8):646-657. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2018.05.009. Epub 2018 Jul 6.


Objectives: To provide an overview of the prevalence rates and risk factors of dehydration among nursing home residents.

Design: Systematic literature review.

Setting: Nursing homes.

Participants: Nursing home residents or institutionalized long-term care residents.

Measurements: A systematic literature review was executed on March 15, 2018, using the databases PubMed, CINAHL, and EMBASE to retrieve all articles focused on the prevalence rates and risk factors for acute and chronic dehydration. Studies were included if the target population involved nursing home residents or institutionalized long-term care residents.

Results: Nineteen studies were included in this systematic review. Prevalence rates of dehydration varied between 0.8% and 38.5% and were measured using different methods. Furthermore, 49 potential risk factors for dehydration were identified. Of the 12 potential risk factors that were investigated in more than 1 study, cognitive impairment and fever were significantly associated with dehydration among nursing home residents.

Conclusions/implications: Dehydration is a relevant and frequently occurring problem among nursing home residents. This systematic review shows that a wide variety of methods are used to assess dehydration and that it is often unclear which type of dehydration (chronic or acute) is measured. This makes it difficult to compare prevalence rates among studies. Moreover, only 2 of 49 potential risk factors (fever and cognitive impairment) were more than once significantly associated with dehydration in the respective studies. Most of the other risk factors were assessed by only 1 study or showed inconsistent results. Therefore, more research into dehydration among nursing home residents is needed.

Keywords: Dehydration; long-term care; nursing homes; prevalence; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Austria
  • Dehydration / diagnosis*
  • Dehydration / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Netherlands
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors