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Early supported discharge for older adults admitted to hospital after orthopaedic surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Background Early supported discharge (ESD) aims to link acute and community care, allowing hospital inpatients to return home, continuing to receive the necessary input from healthcare professionals that they would otherwise receive in hospital. Existing literature demonstrates the concept having a reduced length of stay in stroke inpatients and medical older adults. This systematic review aims to explore the totality of evidence for the use of ESD in older adults hospitalised with orthopaedic complaints.

Methods A literature search of Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials in the Cochrane Library (CENTRAL), EMBASE, CINAHL and MEDLINE in EBSCO was carried out on January 10th, 2024. Randomised controlled trials or quasi-randomised controlled trials were the study designs included. For quality assessment, The Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool 2.0 was used and GRADE was applied to evaluate the certainty of evidence. Acute hospital length of stay was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included the numbers of fallers and function. A pooled meta-analysis was conducted using RevMan software 5.4.1.

Results Seven studies with a population of older adults post orthopaedic surgery met inclusion criteria, with five studies included in the meta-analysis. Study quality was predominantly of a high risk of bias. Statistically significant effects favouring ESD interventions were only seen in terms of length of stay (FEM, MD = -5.57, 95% CI -7.07 to -4.08, I 2=0%). No statistically significant effects favouring ESD interventions were established in secondary outcomes.

Conclusion In the older adult population with orthopaedic complaints, ESD can have a statistically significant impact in reducing hospital length of stay. This review identifies an insufficient existing evidence base to establish the key benefits of ESD for this population group. There is a need for further higher quality research in the area, with standardised interventions and outcome measures used.



BMC Geriatr, 2024 24, (143)



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