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BMC Geriatr. 2019 Jun 4;19(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1170-7.

Experiences and involvement of family members in transfer decisions from nursing home to hospital: a systematic review of qualitative research.

Author information

1
Department of Health Services Research, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, University of Bremen, Grazer Str. 4, 28359, Bremen, Germany. a.pulst@uni-bremen.de.
2
Health Sciences Bremen, University of Bremen, 28359, Bremen, Germany. a.pulst@uni-bremen.de.
3
Department of Health Services Research, School VI - Medicine and Health Sciences, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118, 26129, Oldenburg, Germany.
4
Department of Health Services Research, Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, University of Bremen, Grazer Str. 4, 28359, Bremen, Germany.
5
Health Sciences Bremen, University of Bremen, 28359, Bremen, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Nursing home residents (NHR) are characterized by increasing frailty, multimorbidity and care dependency. These conditions result in frequent hospital transfers which can lead to negative effects on residents' health status and are often avoidable. Reasons for emergency department (ED) visits or hospital admissions are complex. Prior research indicated factors influencing transfer decisions in view of nursing staff and general practitioners. The aim of this systematic review is to explore how family members experience and influence transfers from nursing home (NH) to hospital and how they are involved in the transfer decision.

METHODS:

A systematic literature search was performed in Medline via PubMed, Ebsco Scopus and CINAHL in May 2018. Studies were eligible if they contained information a) about the decision to transfer NHR to hospital and b) the experiences or influence of family members. The review followed Joanna Briggs Institute's (JBI) approach for qualitative systematic reviews. Screening, selection and quality appraisal of studies were performed independently by two reviewers. Synthesis of qualitative data was conducted through meta-aggregation.

RESULTS:

After screening of n = 2863 articles, in total n = 10 qualitative studies were included in the review. Results indicate that family members of NHR experience decision-making before hospitalization differently. They mainly reported NH-related, hospital-related, and family/resident-related factors influencing the transfer decision. The involvement of family members in the decision-making process varies - from no involvement to insistence on a decision in favor of their personal preferences. However, hospital transfer decisions and other treatment decisions (e.g. advance care planning (ACP) discussions) were commonly discussed with physicians and nurses. Conflicts between family members and healthcare providers mostly arose around the interpretation of resident's best interest. In general, family members perceive discussions as challenging thus leading to emotional stress and discomfort.

CONCLUSION:

The influence of NHR family members concerning hospital transfer decisions varies. Family members are an important link for communication between resident and medical staff and for communication between NH and hospital. Interventions aiming to reduce hospitalization rates have to take these findings into account.

KEYWORDS:

Decision making; Family; Hospitalization; Nursing home; Patient transfer; Qualitative evidence synthesis

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