Purpose: To analyze the research published in peer-reviewed journals between 1996 and 2005 about factors affecting the physical outcomes of older adults after serious traumatic injury.
Organizing Construct: Twenty-seven primary research studies published in the last 10 years pertained to in-hospital and long-term outcomes of serious injury among older adults. Research specific to isolated hip injury, traumatic brain injury, and burn trauma was excluded.
Methods: An integrative review of research published between January 1996 and January 2005 was carried out to examine the relationship between older age and outcome from severe injury. MEDLINE, BIOSIS previews, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases were searched using the MeSH terms: injury, serious injury, trauma and multiple trauma, and crossed with type, severity, medical/surgical management, complication, outcome, mortality, morbidity, survival, disability, quality of life, functional status, functional recovery, function, and placement.
Findings: Older adults in these studies had higher short- and long-term mortality than did younger adults. The relationship between older age and poorer outcome persisted when adjusting for injury severity, number of injuries, comorbidities, and complications. At the same time, injury severity, number of injuries, complications, and gender each independently correlated with increased mortality among older adults. The body of research is limited by overreliance on retrospective data and heterogeneity in definitional criteria for the older adult population.
Conclusions: Additional research is needed to clarify the contributory effect of variables such as psychosocial sequelae and physiologic resilience on injury outcome. The field of geriatric trauma would benefit from further population-based prospective investigation of the determinants of injury outcome in older adults in order to guide interventions and acute care treatment.