Factors Associated With Emergency Department Visits by People With Dementia Near the End of Life: A Systematic Review

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10 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Emergency department (ED) attendance is common among people with dementia and increases toward the end of life. The aim was to systematically review factors associated with ED attendance among people with dementia approaching the end of life.

DESIGN: Systematic search of 6 databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, ASSIA, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) and gray literature. Quantitative studies of any design were eligible. Newcastle-Ottawa Scales and Cochrane risk-of-bias tools assessed study quality. Extracted data were reported narratively, using a theoretical model. Factors were synthesized based on strength of evidence using vote counting (PROSPERO registration: CRD42020193271).

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Adults with dementia of any subtype and severity, in the last year of life, or in receipt of services indicative of nearness to end of life.

MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was ED attendance, defined as attending a medical facility that provides 24-hour access to emergency care, with full resuscitation resources.

RESULTS: After de-duplication, 18,204 titles and abstracts were screened, 367 were selected for full-text review and 23 studies were included. There was high-strength evidence that ethnic minority groups, increasing number of comorbidities, neuropsychiatric symptoms, previous hospital transfers, and rural living were positively associated with ED attendance, whereas higher socioeconomic position, being unmarried, and living in a care home were negatively associated with ED attendance. There was moderate-strength evidence that being a woman and receiving palliative care were negatively associated with ED attendance. There was only low-strength evidence for factors associated with repeat ED attendance.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The review highlights characteristics that could help identify patients at risk of ED attendance near the end of life and potential service-related factors to reduce risks. Better understanding of the mechanisms by which residential facilities and palliative care are associated with reduced ED attendance is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2046-2055.e35
JournalJournal Of The American Medical Directors Association
Issue number10
Early online date14 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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