Effect of a Ward-Based Program on Hospital-Associated Complications and Length of Stay for Older Inpatients: The Cluster Randomized CHERISH Trial

Alison M. Mudge, Prue McRae, Merrilyn Banks, Irene Blackberry, Sally Barrimore, John Endacott, Nicholas Graves, Theresa Green, Gill Harvey, Ruth Hubbard, Sue Kurrle, Wen Kwang Lim, Karen Lee-Steere, Phil Masel, Shaun Pandy, Adrienne Young, Adrian Barnett, Sharon K. Inouye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Hospital-associated complications of older people (HAC-OPs) include delirium, hospital-associated disability, incontinence, pressure injuries, and falls. These complications may be preventable by age-friendly principles of care, including early mobility, good nutrition and hydration, and meaningful cognitive engagement; however, implementation is challenging. Objectives: To implement and evaluate a ward-based improvement program ("Eat Walk Engage") to more consistently deliver age-friendly principles of care to older individuals in acute inpatient wards. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cluster randomized CHERISH (Collaboration for Hospitalised Elders Reducing the Impact of Stays in Hospital) trial enrolled 539 consecutive inpatients aged 65 years or older, admitted for 3 days or more to study wards, from October 2, 2016, to April 3, 2017, with a 6-month follow-up. The study wards comprised 8 acute medical and surgical wards in 4 Australian public hospitals. Randomization was stratified by hospital, providing 4 clusters in intervention and in control groups. Statistical analysis was performed from August 28, 2018, to October 17, 2021, on an intention-to-treat basis. Intervention: A trained facilitator supported a multidisciplinary work group on each intervention ward to improve the care practices, environment, and culture to support key age-friendly principles. Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were incidence of any HAC-OP and length of stay. Secondary outcomes were incidence of individual HAC-OPs, facility discharge, 6-month mortality, and all-cause readmission. Outcomes were analyzed at the individual level, adjusted for confounders and clustering. Results: A total of 265 participants on 4 intervention wards (124 women [46.8%]; mean [SD] age, 75.9 [7.3] years) and 274 participants on 4 control wards (145 women [52.9%]; mean [SD] age, 78.0 [8.2] years) were enrolled. The composite primary outcome of any HAC-OP occurred for 115 of 248 intervention participants (46.4%) and 129 of 249 control participants (51.8%) (intervention group: adjusted odds ratio, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.71-1.61). The median length of stay was 6 days (IQR, 4-9 days) for the intervention group and 7 days (IQR, 5-10 days) for the control group (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% credible interval, 0.80-1.15). The incidence of delirium was significantly lower for intervention participants (adjusted odds ratio, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.31-0.90). There were no significant differences in other individual HAC-OPs, facility discharge, mortality, or readmissions. Conclusions and Relevance: The Eat Walk Engage program did not reduce the composite primary outcome of any HAC-OP or length of stay, but there was a significant reduction in the incidence of delirium. Trial Registration: anzctr.org.au Identifier: ACTRN12615000879561.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-282
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Internal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Hospital-associated complications
  • Older patients
  • Patient outcomes
  • Age-friendly principles of care


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of a Ward-Based Program on Hospital-Associated Complications and Length of Stay for Older Inpatients: The Cluster Randomized CHERISH Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this