New Research Priorities Identified for Emergency Department Care for People Living with Dementia: Study

August 9, 2022

August 9, 2022
Contact: Ellen Mullally

There is a dearth of research on emergency department (ED) care practices for people living with dementia (PLWD), but a study in the August issue of JAMDA identified several key research priorities in this area moving forward.

In Optimal Emergency Department Care Practices for Persons Living with Dementia: A Scoping Review, the authors suggested the need for research to address training and dementia care competencies; patient-centric and care partner-centric evaluation interventions; the impact of community and identity-based factors on ED care for PLWD; economic or other implementation science measures to address viability; and environmental, operational, personnel, system, or policy changes to improve ED care for PLWD.

In a literature review, the authors found that emergency care considerations for PLWD included functional dependence, behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, and identification and management of pain. They also found that PLWD are more likely to be given antipsychotics in the ED and to be hospitalized than older adults without dementia. After a hospital stay, they said, PLWD often suffer high rates of adverse outcomes, including repeat ED visits, delirium, falls, increased unsafe behaviors, declines in physical function, and increase in mortality.

The authors stressed the need to prioritize research on ED care for PLWD to ensure the best, most person-centered interventions for these individuals. With up to 57% of PLWD experiencing at least one ED visit annually, they suggested, care needs to align with patients’ specific needs and wishes. They said, “While many interventions show positive results, the lack of depth and reproducible results prevent specific recommendations on best practices in ED care for PLWD.”

This study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; Department of Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Galter Library and learning Center, Northwester University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; Section of Emergency Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; and Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, James J. Peters VA Medical Center, Bronx, NY.

Get more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editor for an interview, please email





JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.