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Risk Factors and Outcomes Associated with Hospital Admission for Dehydration


  • Bonnie J. Wakefield PhD RN,

    Director of Health Services Research, Corresponding author
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    • Bonnie J. Wakefield, PhD RN, is a director of Health Services Research and Development at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital and a research associate professor at Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri at Columbia.

  • Janet Mentes PhD RN,

    Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Janet Mentes, PhD RN, is an assistant professor at UCLA School of Nursing

  • John E. Holman MA,

    Research AssociateSearch for more papers by this author
    • John E. Holman, MA, is a research associate at the Center for Research in Implementation of Innovative Strategies in Practice at Iowa City VA Medical Center.

  • Kennith Culp PhD RN FAAN

    ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Kennith Culp, PhD RN FAAN, is a professor at the College of Nursing, University of Iowa.


The hospital admission rate for dehydration is one of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Prevention's Quality Indicators, which are considered screening tools for potential quality issues. Thus, admission for dehydration may reflect the quality of care provided in community settings. Using a case-control design, this study estimated the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of dehydration in adults admitted to the hospital. The overall prevalence rate for three International Classification of Diseases codes for dehydration at admission was 0.55%. Cases and controls differed significantly on a number of clinical variables at admission, including weight, body mass index, pulse, blood pressure, use of bulk-forming laxatives, serum sodium and chloride, and presence of generalized weakness or hemiplegia, edema, diarrhea, vomiting, and having nothing by mouth before admission. Mortality rates at 30 and 180 days after discharge were not significantly different between the two groups. Dehydration in community-dwelling adults may delay rehabilitation or result in hospital admission. Prevention, monitoring, and management are critical to preventing dehydration-associated problems.

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