How Older Adults Experience an Emergency Department Visit: Development and Validation of Measures

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Study objective:

This study aims to develop and validate measures of experiences of an emergency department (ED) visit suitable for use by older adults or their family members.


A cohort of patients aged 75 years and older who were discharged home was recruited at 4 EDs. At 1 week after the visit, patients or family members were interviewed by telephone to assess problems experienced at the visit. Twenty-six questions based on 6 domains of care found in the literature were developed: 16 questions were administered to all patients; 10 questions were administered to bed patients only. Scales were developed with multiple correspondence analysis. Regression analyses were used to validate the scales, using 2 validation criteria: perceived overall quality of care and willingness to return to the same ED.


Four hundred twelve patients completed the 1-week interview, 197 ambulatory and 215 bed patients; family members responded for 75 patients. Two scales were developed, assessing personal care and communication (8 questions; α=.63) and waiting times (2 questions; α=.79). Both scales were significantly independently associated with perceived overall quality of care and willingness to return to the same ED.


Two scales assessing important aspects of ED care experienced by older adults are ready for further evaluation in other settings.

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