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  1. Gustavson, Allison M. PT, DPT


Background and Purpose: Inability to obtain sufficient gains in function during a skilled nursing facility (SNF) stay impacts patients' functional trajectories and susceptibility to adverse events. The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of functional change in patients temporarily residing in an SNF following hospitalization.


Methods: One hundred forty patients admitted to a single SNF from the hospital who had both evaluation and discharge measures of physical function documented were included. Data from the Minimum Data Set 3.0 and electronic medical record were extracted to record clinical and demographic characteristics. The Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) was administered by rehabilitation therapists at evaluation and discharge. The SPPB consists of balance tests, gait speed, and a timed 5-time sit-to-stand test.


Results and Discussion: The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) Screening Tool for Depression was the only significant predictor of change in gait speed over an SNF stay. Eighty-seven percent of patients achieved a clinically meaningful change in the SPPB of 1 point or greater from evaluation to discharge, with 78% demonstrating a clinically meaningful change of 0.1 m/s or greater on gait speed. However, 69% of patients demonstrated SPPB scores of 6 points or less and 57% ambulated less than 0.65 m/s at the time of discharge from the SNF, which indicates severe disability.


Conclusions: Poor physical function following an SNF stay places older adult at significant risk for adverse events including rehospitalization, future disability, and institutionalization. Understanding the predictors of functional change from evaluation to discharge may direct efforts toward developing innovative and effective interventions to improve function trajectories for older adults following an acute hospitalization.