The Experience of Families Accompanying a Senior to the Emergency Department: A Scoping Review



      Seniors are often accompanied by a family member to the emergency department. Families advocate for their needs and contribute to the continuity of care. However, they often feel excluded from care. To improve the quality and safety of care for seniors, it is necessary to consider the experience of families in the emergency department. The aim was to identify and synthesize the available scientific literature dealing with the experience of families accompanying a senior to the emergency department. To identify and synthesize the available scientific literature dealing with the experience of families accompanying a senior to the emergency department.


      A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework. Six databases were targeted. A description of the identified scientific literature and an inductive content analysis were performed.


      Of the 3082 articles retrieved, 19 met the inclusion criteria. Most articles (89%) were published since 2010, were from nursing (63%), and used a qualitative research design (79%). The content analysis identified 4 main categories related to the experience of families accompanying a senior to the emergency department: (1) process leading to the emergency department, families feel uncertainty and ambiguity with the decision to go to the emergency department; (2) staying in the emergency department, families’ experiences are influenced by the triage, the ED environment, and the interactions with ED personnel; (3) discharge from the emergency department, families consider that they should be part of the discharge planning; and (4) recommendations and possible solutions, there is a paucity of recommendations specifically focused on families.


      The experience of families of seniors in the emergency department is multifactorial and part of a trajectory of care and health services.

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      Gabriela Peguero-Rodriguez is a PhD candidate, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and an Assistant Professor, Nursing Department, Université du Québec en Outaouais, Gatineau, Québec, Canada. ORCID identifier:


      Viola Polomeno is an Adjunct Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ORCID identifier:


      Chantal Backman is an Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; an Affiliate Investigator, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and an Affiliate Investigator, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ORCID identifier:


      Julie Chartrand is an Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and an Affiliate Investigator, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ORCID identifier:


      Michelle Lalonde is an Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; and an Scientist, Institut du Savoir Montfort, Montfort Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ORCID identifier: