Prevalence and potentially reversible factors associated with anorexia among older nursing home residents: Results from the ulisse project

Francesco Landi, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Giuseppina Dell'Aquila, Paolo Eusebi, Beatrice Gasperini, Rosa Liperoti, Andrea Belluigi, Roberto Bernabei, Antonio Cherubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The principal aims of the present study were to explore the prevalence of anorexia and the factors correlated to anorexia in a large population of older people living in nursing home. Secondary, we evaluated the impact of anorexia on 1-year survival. Methods: Data are from baseline evaluation of 1904 participants enrolled in the Un Link Informatico sui Servizi Sanitari Esistenti per l'. Anziano study, a project evaluating the quality of care for older persons living in an Italian nursing home. All participants underwent a standardized comprehensive evaluation using the Italian version of the inter Resident Assessment Instrument Minimum Data Set (version 2.0) for Nursing Home. We defined anorexia as the presence of lower food intake. The relationship between covariates and anorexia was estimated by deriving ORs and relative 95% CIs from multiple logistic regression models including anorexia as the dependent variable of interest. Hazard ratios and 95% CIs for mortality by anorexia were calculated. Results: More than 12% (240 participants) of the study sample suffered from anorexia, as defined by the presence of decreased food intake or the presence of poor appetite. Participants with functional impairment, dementia, behavior problems, chewing problems, renal failure, constipation, and depression, those treated with proton pump inhibitors and opioids had a nearly 2-fold increased risk of anorexia compared with participants not affected by these syndromes. Furthermore, participants with anorexia had a higher risk of death for all causes compared with nonanorexic participants (hazard ratio 2.26, 95% CI: 2.14-2.38). Conclusions: The major finding is that potentially reversible causes, such as depression, pharmacologic therapies, and chewing problems, were strongly and independently associated with anorexia among frail older people living in nursing home. Furthermore, anorexia was associated with higher rate of mortality, independently of age and other clinical and functional variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Anorexia
  • Correlated factors
  • Geriatric assessment
  • Minimum Data Set
  • Mortality
  • Nursing home

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy


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