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JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep. 2018 Jan;16(1):71-86. doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003334.

Nurse experiences of medication administration to people with swallowing difficulties living in aged care facilities: a systematic review of qualitative evidence.

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School of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.
CEBHA (Centre for Evidence-Based Healthy Ageing): a Joanna Briggs Institute Centre of Excellence, Brisbane, Australia.
School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



To identify nurses' experiences of administering oral medications to residents of aged care facilities (ACFs) with swallowing difficulties.


Administering medicines to older people with swallowing difficulties is a challenging task. Nurses frequently modify oral medications e.g. by crushing/splitting tablets or opening capsules, to facilitate the administration process. These practices are associated with an increased risk of medication administration errors. However, the reasons for these practices from the nurse's perspective are not well understood.


The review investigated studies on the experiences of nurses of any level with the responsibility of medication administration in ACFs in terms of problems and challenges they encountered when administering oral medicines to aged care residents with swallowing difficulties. Aged care facilities providing all levels of care were considered for inclusion. Qualitative studies including, but not limited to, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography and action research designs as well as mixed methods studies and text and opinion papers were considered.


A comprehensive database search of PubMed, CINAHL, Embase and Scopus was conducted between October and December 2016. MedNar and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses were used to search for gray literature. No date limitation was applied. The Joanna Briggs Institute Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument critical appraisal tool (JBI-QARI) was used to assess the quality of the papers. The JBI-QARI data extraction instrument was used to extract qualitative findings. Data synthesis was not applicable in the final analysis due to the inclusion of only one article.


The initial search resulted in 1681 unique titles for screening. A total of 202 abstracts were screened, after which a full-text review conducted for 19 articles. After the full-text review, only one article was eligible to be included in the final report. The included study scored highly in terms of methodological quality. The findings highlighted issues around time constraints, complexity of medication administration process to residents of ACFs with swallowing difficulties, cost and resources for alternative strategies, inefficient information flow and communication among healthcare professionals, and nurses' knowledge and training needs.


The limited findings of this systematic review indicate that further research is necessary to provide evidence of nurses' experiences with regards to administering oral medications to older people with swallowing difficulties living in ACFs. A comprehensive understanding of these experiences may lead to organizational system changes to support nurses and older people with swallowing difficulties in ACFs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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