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aged 85 years and over, cognitive dysfunction, electronic health records, standardized nursing terminology



  1. Macieira, Tamara G. R.
  2. Yao, Yingwei
  3. Smith, Madison B.
  4. Bian, Jiang
  5. Wilkie, Diana J.
  6. Keenan, Gail M.


Background: The presence of cognitive impairment (CI) among hospitalized older adults (aged 85 years and older) could interfere with the identification and treatment of other important symptoms experienced by these patients. Little is known, however, about the nursing care provided to this group. Contrasting the nursing care provided to patients with and without CI may reveal important insights about symptom treatment in the CI population.


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the relationship of CI to nursing care provided and length of stay for hospitalized older adults using standardized nursing data retrieved from electronic health records.


Methods: We conducted a comparative secondary data analysis. A data set of standardized nursing plan of care data retrieved from electronic health record data of nine units at four hospitals was analyzed. The plan of care data for this study were previously transformed into one of eight categories (family, well-being, mental comfort, physical comfort, mental, safety, functional, and physiological care). Fisher exact tests were used to compare the differences in the nursing care for hospitalized older adults with and without CI. Mixed-effects models were used to examine associations of patient's cognitive status and nursing care, and cognitive status and length of stay.


Results: We identified 4,354 unique patients; 746 (17%) had CI. We observed that older adults with CI were less likely to receive physical comfort care than those without CI for seven of nine units. Older adults' cognitive status was associated with the delivery of mental comfort care. In addition, a worsening in cognitive status was associated with an increase in length of stay for older adults with CI.


Discussion: Older adults with CI appeared to be undertreated for symptoms of pain when compared to those without CI across units. There is a need for further research to improve symptom recognition and management for this population. The presence of CI was associated with variation in nursing care provided and length of stay. Future studies that include the analysis of nursing data merged with elements stored in the electronic health record representing the contributions of other health professions are expected to provide additional insights into this gap.