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J Health Serv Res Policy. 2019 Apr;24(2):124-129. doi: 10.1177/1355819618801696. Epub 2018 Sep 17.

Interviewing older people about their experiences of emergency hospital admission: methodology in health services research.

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1 Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Sociology, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lincoln, UK.
2 Head of School of Social Policy, School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, UK.
3 Former Research Fellow, Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham, UK.
4 Former Senior Lecturer in Social Work, School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, UK.


This essay makes the case for increased use of patient-centred methodologies, which involve patients and the public, in the area of emergency admissions research in the United Kingdom. Emergency admission research has rarely made use of the patient voice when attempting to find a rate of 'inappropriate' admission for older people, instead focusing on professional viewpoints and more abstract tools. We argue for the important insights that patients and their families bring to emergency admissions research and for the need to listen to and use these voices to find more holistic responses to the issue of unplanned admissions to hospital for those aged over 65. This area of health services research is highly complex, but without involving the patient viewpoint we risk not understanding the full story of events leading up to admission and what preventative measures might have helped, and therefore we also risk developing less effective, simplistic solutions. In the face of increasing challenges to the National Health Service's ability to provide safe, effective and affordable care for older people, researchers need to listen to those with direct and longitudinal experience of their ill health and admission.


Emergency hospital admission; inappropriate admissions; older people; patient and public involvement; qualitative methods


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