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Symptoms in hospitalized patients: outcome and satisfaction with care.
Physical symptoms are responsible for substantial morbidity in outpatients. We assessed symptoms in patients admitted to a hospital to determine their frequency, persistence at discharge, and the relation between symptom outcome and satisfaction with care.
During a 12-month period, 2,126 hospitalized medical patients completed a study interview within 2 hours of admission. More than half (n = 1,168) of the patients were re-interviewed within 24 hours of discharge. We ascertained the presence and severity of 11 physical symptoms, as well as activities of daily living, mobility, mood, self-rated health, physiologic severity of illness, satisfaction with care, and length of stay.
Symptoms were common at the time of hospital admission, particularly fatigue (80% of patients), dyspnea (60%), cough (51%), dizziness (51%), headache (47%), chest pain (46%), and nausea or vomiting (43%). Individual symptoms failed to resolve by hospital discharge approximately 25% to 50% of the time. The three most prominent predictors of persistence of symptoms were shorter length of stay, severity of the symptom on admission, and total symptom count. Patient satisfaction with care was associated with total symptom severity score at discharge and the degree of symptomatic improvement that had occurred during hospitalization.
Because symptoms are common at discharge and associated with decreased satisfaction with care, asking about them would be a reasonable way to enhance patient-oriented care.
The meaning of symptoms: reflections in Alice's looking-glass. [Am J Med. 1999]