An emergency medical services program to promote the health of older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Jun;54(6):956-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2006.00736.x.


Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility and effect of an emergency medical services (EMS) program that screened, educated, and referred older adults with unmet needs.

Design: A cluster sample design evaluation of an intervention conducted by EMS in one of two communities.

Setting: Two rural communities in upstate New York.

Participants: Two hundred fifty-eight intervention-group and 143 control-group community-dwelling older adults receiving emergency care from participating EMS agencies between February 2004 and June 2005.

Intervention: EMS providers screened intervention group patients to identify those at risk for falls, influenza, and pneumococcal infections and provided patients educational materials. Patients' physicians were notified of screening results to provide interventions. Control group patients were provided usual care.

Measurements: Variables included patient demographic and clinical characteristics, the proportion of eligible patients screened, patient risk during EMS care and 14 days later, and patient recollection of receiving educational materials and conversations with physicians regarding needs.

Results: Follow-up was successful in 245 (61%) patients. Approximately 80% of intervention-group patients were successfully screened for each item. No differences were identified for characteristics collected at the time of EMS care, but a notable number of patients were at risk for each item. No differences existed between the control or intervention group for process measures such as recollection of receiving educational materials. For outcome measures, only an improvement in pneumococcal vaccination levels was found.

Conclusion: EMS screening of older adults during emergency responses is feasible, but a simple intervention of providing educational materials to patients during emergency responses and faxing notifications to physicians appears insufficient to address patients' needs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Program Evaluation / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rural Population