• cognitively impaired;
  • emergency department;
  • frail older people;
  • older adults;
  • quality improvement

parke b., beaith a., slater l. & clarke a.m. (2011) Contextual factors influencing success or failure of emergency department interventions for cognitively impaired older people: a scoping and integrative review. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(7), 1426–1448.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a scoping review of research on cognitive impairment in older adults who visit Emergency Departments of acute care hospitals, followed by an integrative review that included a quality assessment to determine the effectiveness of interventions for this population.

Background.  Being old and cognitively impaired in the Emergency Department – a fast-paced intervention system – is a complex phenomenon that challenges many healthcare professionals. The rise in the incidence and prevalence of dementia will have a large impact on healthcare systems.

Data sources.  MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycInfo, AgeLine, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Google Scholar between 1990 and 2008, for qualitative or quantitative studies reporting extractable data on delirium or dementia in non-institutionalized older people (65+ years) in the Emergency Department.

Review methods.  Titles screened by a project researcher and checked against inclusion criteria by another researcher. Two reviewers completed independent data extraction and synthesis of included studies. Quality assessment occurred using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Tools.

Results.  Fifteen studies met the inclusion criteria for integrative review. Analysis of these studies indicates that the prevalence of cognitive impairment is high and improvements are needed. Contextual details and relevant features of an appropriate intervention are poorly explained.

Conclusion.  Although the prevalence and incidence of cognitive impairment is recognized, appropriate interventions and programmatic responses remain elusive. Quality improvements require more thorough examination of emergency department context to identify modifiable influencing factors that are transferable across settings.