Objectives: To develop and validate an instrument for stratifying older patients at the time of hospital admission according to their risk of developing new disabilities in activities of daily living (ADL) following acute medical illness and hospitalization.
Design: Multi-center prospective cohort study.
Setting: Four university and two private non-federal acute care hospitals.
Patients: The development cohort consists of 448 patients and the validation cohort consists of 379 patients who were aged 70 and older and who were hospitalized for acute medical illness between 1989 and 1992.
Measurements: All patients were evaluated on hospital admission to identify baseline demographic and functional characteristics and were then assessed at discharge and 3 months after discharge to determine decline in ADL functioning.
Results: Logistic regression analysis identified three patient characteristics that were independent predictors of functional decline in the development cohort: increasing age, lower admission Mini-Mental Status Exam scores, and lower preadmission IADL function. A scoring system was developed for each predictor variable and patients were assigned to low, intermediate, and high risk categories. The rates of ADL decline at discharge for the low, intermediate, and high risk categories were 17%, 28%, and 56% in the development cohort and 19%, 31%, and 55% in the validation cohort, respectively. Patients in the low risk category were significantly more likely to recover ADL function and to avoid nursing home placement during the 3 months after discharge.
Conclusion: Hospital Admission Risk Profile (HARP) is a simple instrument that can be used to identify patients at risk of functional decline following hospitalization. HARP can be used to identify patients who might benefit from comprehensive discharge planning, specialized geriatric care, and experimental interventions designed to prevent/reduce the development of disability in hospitalized older populations.