Advance directives for older adults in the emergency department: A systematic review

Jeremy Oulton, Suzanne Michelle Rhodes, Carol Howe, Mindy J. Fain, Martha Jane Mohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Background: It has been more than two decades since the passage of the Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) of 1991, an act that requires many medical points of care, including emergency departments (EDs), to provide information to patients about advance directives (ADs). Objective: The study objective was to determine the prevalence of ADs among ED patients with a focus on older adults and factors associated with rates of completion. Methods: We searched PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, Medline, and the Cochrane Library. Articles were selected according to the following criteria: (1) population: adult ED patients; (2) outcome measures: quantitative prevalence data pertaining to ADs and factors associated with completion of an AD; (3) location: EDs in the United States; and (4) date: published 1991 or later. Results: Of the 258 references retrieved as a result of our search, six studies met inclusion criteria. Rates of patient-reported AD completion ranged from 21% to 53%, while ADs were available to ED personnel for 1% to 44% of patients. Patients aged ≥65 years had ADs 21% to 46% of the time. Sociodemographics (e.g., older age, specific religion, white or African American race, being widowed, or having children) and health status related variables (e.g., poor health, institutionalization, and having a primary care provider) were associated with greater likelihood of having an AD. Conclusions: Published rates of AD completion vary widely among patients presenting to U.S. EDs. Patient sociodemographic and health status factors are associated with increased rates of AD completion, though rates are low for all populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-505
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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