Introduction: This systematic scoping review aims to synthetize the available evidence on the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical characteristics, screening tools, prevention strategies, interventions and knowledge of health care providers regarding elder abuse in the emergency department (ED). Methods: A systematic literature search was performed using three databases (Medline, Embase and Cochrane Library). Grey literature was scrutinized. Studies were considered eligible when they were observational studies or randomized control trials reporting on elder abuse in the prehospital and/or ED setting. Data extraction was performed independently by two researchers and a qualitative approach was used to synthetize the findings. Results: A total of 443 citations were retrieved from which 58 studies published between 1988 and 2018 were finally included. Prevalence of elder abuse following an ED visit varied between 0.01% and 0.03%. Reporting of elder abuse to proper law authorities by ED physicians varied between 2% to 50% of suspected cases. The most common reported type of elder abuse detected was neglect followed by physical abuse. Female gender was the most consistent factor associated with elder abuse. Cognitive impairment, behavioral problems and psychiatric disorder of the patient or the caregiver were also associated with physical abuse and neglect as well as more frequent ED consultations. Several screening tools have been proposed, but ED-based validation is lacking. Literature on prehospital- or ED-initiated prevention and interventions was scarce without any controlled trial. Health care providers were poorly trained to detect and care for older adults who are suspected of being a victim of elder abuse. Conclusion: Elder abuse in the ED is an understudied topic. It remains underrecognized and underreported with ED prevalence rates lower than those in community-dwelling older adults. Health care providers reported lacking appropriate training and knowledge with regards to elder abuse. Dedicated ED studies are required.
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