Participation in daily activities after acute illness hospitalization among high-functioning older adults: a qualitative study

Maya Arieli, Rachel Kizony, Efrat Gil, Maayan Agmon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To describe high-functioning older adults' experiences of participation in daily activities and perceived barriers and facilitators to participation one- and 3-months post-acute hospitalization. Background: Older adults discharged after acute illness hospitalization are at risk for functional decline and adverse health outcomes. Yet, little is known about the subjective experience of resuming participation in meaningful activities beyond the immediate post-discharge period among high-functioning older adults, a mostly overlooked sub-sample. Design: Qualitative descriptive longitudinal study adhering to the COREQ guidelines. Methods: Forty two participants ages ≥65 years (mean age 75, SD ± 7.9) were recruited from internal medicine wards. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at participants' homes one-month post-discharge, followed by a telephone interview 3-months after. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Participants perceived the hospitalization as a disruption of healthy and meaningful routines. This first key theme had unique expressions over time and included two sub-themes. At one month: (1) reduced life spaces and sedentary routines. At 3 months: (2) a matter of quality not quantity – giving up even one meaningful activity can make a difference. The second key theme was described as a combination of physical and psychological barriers to participation over time. These themes demonstrated the profound impact of the hospitalization on behavior (participation) and feelings (e.g., symptoms). The third key theme was described as a dyad of intrinsic and extrinsic facilitators to participation. Conclusions: Acute illness hospitalization may lead to subtle decreases in participation in meaningful health-promoting activities, even among high-functioning older adults. These changes may impact overall well-being and possibly mark the beginning of functional decline. Relevance to clinical practice: This study highlights the need for a more comprehensive assessment of participation, relevant for high-functioning older adults, to enable person-centered care. Intervention programs should address the modifiable barriers and facilitators identified in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3456-3468
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number13-14
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • acute illness hospitalization
  • barriers/facilitators
  • high-functioning older adults
  • meaningful activities
  • participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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