Comparison of older patient’s self-care abilities in acute geriatric and internal medicine departments

  • Manuela FriedliEmail author
  • Philipp Schuetz
  • Antoinette Conca
Original contributions



There is ongoing controversy whether patients show better functional outcomes when care is provided in acute geriatric (AG) or internal medicine (IM) departments.


This study compared the recovery of acutely ill patients concerning activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).

Material and methods

A total of 274 patients (≥70 years old, 67 in AG, 207 in IM) were included consecutively (AG intervention) or data were obtained (IM comparison) in a Swiss hospital with 2 locations. The ADL/IADL data were collected 14 days before admission (t1, retrospectively), on admission (t2), at discharge (t3), and 30 days after admission (t4). This study consisted of a prospective study with a longitudinal quasi-experimental design.


The AG patients had a significantly higher probability to gain independence in mobility (between t2/t3, P = 0.008), grooming of the lower body (between t2/t3, P = 0.037) and defecation (between t2/t4, P < 0.001). The IM patients were significantly more independent in IADL at t4 (all P < 0.05) except for meal preparation. The odds for nursing home admission in AG with dependency at t1 were significantly lower in every ADL (all P < 0.05) and with shopping in IADL (P = 0.008).


This study shows a positive effect of AG compared to IM in self-care with a lower probability for nursing home admission. There is need for further education and research to improve outcomes in older hospitalized patients.


Aged Activities of daily living Instrumental activities of daily living Early rehabiliation Physical function 

Vergleich der Selbstpflegefähigkeiten älterer Patienten in akutgeriatrischen und internistischen Abteilungen



Es ist weiterhin unklar, ob Patienten bessere Selbstpflegefähigkeiten bezüglich der Aktivitäten des täglichen Lebens (ATL) und der instrumentellen Aktivitäten des täglichen Lebens (IATL) zeigen, wenn die Pflege in einer akutgeriatrischen (AG) oder in einer internistisch-medizinischen Abteilung (IM) erfolgt.


Diese Studie verglich die Veränderung bezüglich ATL und IATL von Patienten akutgeriatrischer und internistisch-medizinischer Abteilungen.

Material und Methoden

Insgesamt 274 Patienten (≥70 Jahre; 67 in AG, 207 in IM) wurden aufeinanderfolgend (AG oder routinemäßig IM) in einem Schweizer Krankenhaus mit zwei Standorten erfasst. ATL/IATL wurden rückwirkend 14 Tage vor der Aufnahme (t1), beim Eintritt (t2), bei der Entlassung (t3) und 30 Tage nach Eintritt (t4) erhoben. Es handelt sich hierbei um eine prospektive Längsschnittstudie mit einem quasi-experimentellen Design.


AG-Patienten hatten eine signifikant höhere Wahrscheinlichkeit, sich zwischen Eintritt und Austritt bezüglich der Mobilität und Selbstpflege der unteren Extremitäten zu verbessern (p = 0,008 bzw. p = 0,037) sowie zwischen Eintritt und 4 Wochen nach Austritt bezüglich Stuhlausscheidung selbständiger zu werden (p < 0,001). Die Wahrscheinlichkeit für einen Pflegeheimeintritt ist bei AG-Patienten mit einer Abhängigkeit bei t1 signifikant tiefer bei allen ATL (p < 0,05) und bei den IATL beim Einkaufen (p = 0,008).


Unsere Studie zeigt eine positive Wirkung der AG gegenüber der IM betreffend Selbstpflege und eine geringere Wahrscheinlichkeit für einen Pflegeheimeintritt. Es besteht ein Bedarf an weiterer Schulung und Forschung zur Verbesserung der Selbstpflegefähigkeiten älterer, hospitalisierter Patienten.


Alter Alltagsaktivitäten Instrumentelle Alltagsaktivitäten Früh-Rehabilitation Körperliche Funktionalität 



We would like to thank the people who were involved in

  • data collection: the nursing team of the Acute Geriatric Unit, Pascale Haus, as well as Katharina Regez, Ursula Schild, Zelijka Caldara, Merih Gugielmetti and Sonja Schwenne,

  • providing data exports: Susanne Biegner, Ingolf Drube, Christoph Reemts, Sebastian Haubitz, Lukas Faessler,

  • supporting the project: Alexander Kutz, Beat Mueller, Barbara Reutlinger.

Furthermore, our thanks go to Tim Deters and Allison Iwan for English corrections.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Conflict of interest

M. Friedli, P. Schuetz and A. Conca declare that they have no competing interests.

All AG patients provided written consent. Data from IM patients were collected for quality improvement purposes. The Cantonal Ethical Advisory Board of North and Central Switzerland approved this study (EKNZ 2015-309). The Declaration of Helsinki was applied.

Supplementary material

391_2019_1570_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary Table S1: ICD-10 Chapters and main diagnosis
391_2019_1570_MOESM2_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary Table S2: Patients’ characteristics before and after matching
391_2019_1570_MOESM3_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary Table S3: ADL/IADL dependency at t1–t4 (dichotomous variables)
391_2019_1570_MOESM4_ESM.docx (42 kb)
Supplementary Table S4: Patients’ characteristics subgroup home/nursing home
391_2019_1570_MOESM5_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary Figure S1: ADL ordinal, independency at t2 and t4


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Copyright information

© Springer Medizin Verlag GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuela Friedli
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Philipp Schuetz
    • 2
  • Antoinette Conca
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Nursing DevelopmentRegional Hospital ZofingenZofingenSwitzerland
  2. 2.Division of General and Emergency Medicine; University Department of MedicineCantonal Hospital AarauAarauSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Health/Applied Research & Development in NursingBern University of Applied SciencesBernSwitzerland
  4. 4.Nursing DevelopmentCantonal Hospital AarauAarauSwitzerland
  5. 5.OftringenSwitzerland

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