Researchers awarded for study into improving physical activity in seniors in hospital

Researchers within the Caring Futures Institute were awarded at an International Society of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity conference recently.

Physiotherapy researchers Dr Claire Baldwin and Associate Professor Lucy Lewis won the award for ‘Best Study Abstract’ within the Aging Special Interest Group 15 June 2020.

The award was for a study that consulted researchers, multi-disciplinary clinicians, policy makers and patients from across four continents to create draft recommendations for improving physical activity and minimising the sedentary behaviour of older adults while they are in hospital.

The full study has also just been published in a top ranking journal, and is freely available open access here.

When hospitalised with an acute medical illness, older adults are at high risk of functional decline, newly acquired disabilities and poor outcomes that persist post-hospitalisation such as continued decline, institutionalisation and death.

Dr Claire Baldwin

These problems are not unique to Australia, they are of global relevance as indicated by economic and observational data, and social health movements such as #endpjparalysis.

While research on how much activity is required to minimise or prevent some of these poor outcomes is growing, currently, support for clinical practice in the form of protocols or guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour for the acute hospital setting is lacking.

In a situation like this, where existing data to form guidelines is unavailable or inadequate, the researchers chose to use the well-established Delphi methodology and conducted online surveys to seek expert and stakeholder opinions.

The result was a series of draft recommendations that may be useful for a range of stakeholders. These recommendations provide the first practical guidance for clinicians and hospitals to consider, in how to work with and enable older adults in this setting to be as active as their conditions and abilities allow.

Associate Professor Lucy Lewis

The recommendations may also guide future research priorities, highlighting where further research is needed to support the specificity and further development of recommendations.

One research participant said, “I am impressed with how this research has targeted and progressed on what I think is a very crucial topic, and hope it gets more traction and influence”.

Journal reference: Baldwin CE, Phillips AC, Edney SM, Lewis LK. Recommendations for older adults’ physical activity and sedentary behaviour during hospitalisation for an acute medical illness: an international Delphi study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17:69.

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