Unsatisfied basic needs of older patients in emergency care environments - obstacles to an active role in decision making

J Clin Nurs. 2003 Mar;12(2):268-74. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2702.2003.00737.x.


Little attention is paid in Emergency Care Units (ECUs) in Sweden to the special needs of older people. The aim of this study was thus to analyse older people's basic needs in the emergency care environment. The study was carried out with a life-world interpretative approach, and the theoretical framework for interpretation was Abraham Maslow's theory of motivation and personality. Seven informants aged between 65 and 88 years, with various experiences of being patients with urgent as well as non-urgent health-related problems, were interviewed about their experiences of ECU care. Their basic needs at the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy were well-represented in the data. Higher needs, such as desire to know and understand, appeared to be totally neglected. Safety needs dominated the whole situation. Our conclusion is that standards of care must be developed in Sweden to make older patients feel safer and more secure in ECUs. Furthermore, the principles of nursing care for older patients need to be defined in order to encourage them to take an active part in their own health process.

MeSH terms

  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Decision Making*
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Nursing Care
  • Patient Participation / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Sweden