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BACKGROUND: Restricted activity is a potential early marker of declining health in older adults. Previous studies of this association with patient outcomes have been inconclusive. This review aimed to evaluate the extent to which restricted activity is associated with decline in health. METHODS: A search was conducted for studies including people over 65 years old which investigated the association between measures of restricted activity and hospitalisation, cognitive decline, and mortality. Following data extraction by two reviewers, eligible studies were summarised using Inverse Variance Heterogeneity meta-analysis. RESULTS: The search identified 8,434 unique publications, with 11 eligible studies. Three measures of restricted activity were identified: bed rest, restricted movement, and dependency for activities of daily living (ADL). Three studies looked at hospitalisations, with two finding a significant association with bed rest or restricted movement and one showing no evidence of an association. Restricted activity was associated with a significant increase in mortality across all three measures (bed rest odds ratio [OR] 6.34, 95%CI 2.51-16.02, I2 = 76%; restricted movement OR 5.38 95%CI 2.60-11.13, I2 = 69%; general ADL dependency OR 4.65 95%CI 2.25-9.26, I2 = 84%). The significant heterogeneity observed could not be explained by restricting the analysis by length of follow-up, or measure of restricted activity. No meta-analysis was conducted on the limited evidence for cognitive decline outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Limited studies have considered the prognostic value of restricted activity in terms of predicting future declining health. Current evidence suggests restricted activity is associated with hospitalisation and mortality, and therefore could identify a group for whom early intervention might be possible.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Geriatr

Publication Date





Multimorbidity, Older adults, Restricted activity, Systematic review, Humans, Aged, Activities of Daily Living, Hospitalization