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18.10.2019 | Themenschwerpunkt | Sonderheft 4/2019 Open Access

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie 4/2019

Communication behavior of cognitively impaired older inpatients

A new setting for validating the CODEM instrument

Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie > Sonderheft 4/2019
MSc Eva-Luisa Schnabel, PhD Hans-Werner Wahl, Dipl.-Psych. Susanne Penger, PhD Julia Haberstroh


Background and objective

Acutely ill older patients with cognitive impairment represent a major subgroup in acute care hospitals. In this context, communication plays a crucial role for patients’ well-being, healthcare decisions, and medical outcomes. As validated measures are lacking, we tested the psychometric properties of an observational instrument to assess Communication Behavior in Dementia (CODEM) in the acute care hospital setting. As a novel feature, we were also able to incorporate linguistic and social-contextual measures.

Material and methods

Data were drawn from a cross-sectional mixed methods study that focused on the occurrence of elderspeak during care interactions in two German acute care hospitals. A total of 43 acutely ill older patients with severe cognitive impairment (CI group, Mage ± SD = 83.6 ± 5.7 years) and 50 without cognitive impairment (CU group, Mage ± SD = 82.1 ± 6.3 years) were observed by trained research assistants during a standardized interview situation and rated afterwards by use of CODEM.


Factor analysis supported the expected two-factor solution for the CI group, i.e., a verbal content and a nonverbal relationship aspect. Findings of the current study indicated sound psychometric properties of the CODEM instrument including internal consistency, convergent, divergent, and criterion validity.


CODEM represents a reliable and valid tool to examine the communication behavior of older patients with CI in the acute care hospital setting. Thus, CODEM might serve as an important instrument for researcher and healthcare professionals to describe and improve communication patterns in this environment.

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