Core Domains for Research on Hospital Inactivity in Acutely Ill Older Adults: A Delphi Consensus Study

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2021 Apr;102(4):664-674. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2020.10.136. Epub 2020 Nov 28.


Objective: To identify core domains for research studies of physical activity and sedentary behavior during hospitalization for older adults with an acute medical illness.

Design: A 4-Round Delphi consensus process. Round 1 invited responses to open-ended questions to generate items for the core domains research. In rounds 2-4, participants were invited to use a Likert scale (1-9) to rate the importance of each core domain for research studies of physical activity and/or sedentary behavior in hospitalized older adults with an acute medical illness.

Setting: Online surveys.

Participants: A total of 49 participants were invited to each round (international researchers, clinicians, policy makers and patients). Response rates across rounds 1-4 were 94%, 88%, 83% and 81%, respectively.

Interventions: None.

Main outcome measures: Consensus was defined a priori as ≥70% of respondents rating an item as "critical" (score≥7) and ≤15% of respondents rating an item as "not important" (score≤3).

Results: In round 2, a total of 9 of 25 core domains reached consensus agreement (physical functioning, general, role functioning, emotional functioning, global quality of life, hospital, psychiatric, cognitive functioning, carer burden). In round 3, an additional 8 reached consensus (adverse events, perceived health status, musculoskeletal, social functioning, vascular, cardiac, mortality, economic). Round 4 participants provided further review and a final rating of all 17 core domains that met consensus in previous rounds. Four core domains were rated as "critically important" to evaluate: physical functioning, social functioning, emotional functioning, and hospital outcomes.

Conclusions: This preliminary work provides international and expert consensus-based core domains for development toward a core-outcome set for research, with the ultimate goal of fostering consistency in outcomes and reporting to accelerate research on effective strategies to address physical activity and/or sedentary behavior in older adults while hospitalized.

Keywords: Acute disease; Consensus; Exercise; Frail elderly; Health care; Hospitalization; Outcome assessment; Patient reported outcome measures; Sedentary behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Delphi Technique
  • Exercise*
  • Frail Elderly*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Research Design*
  • Sedentary Behavior*