Emergency nurses’ knowledge and self-rated practice skills when caring for older patients in the Emergency Department

Helen Rawson, Paul N. Bennett, Cherene Ockerby, Alison M. Hutchinson, Julie Considine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background Older adults are high users of emergency department services and their care requirements can present challenges for emergency nurses. Although clinical outcomes for older patients improve when they are cared for by nurses with specialist training, emergency nurses’ knowledge and self-assessment of care for older patients is poorly understood. Aim To assess emergency nurses’ knowledge and self-rating of practice when caring for older patients. Methods A cross-sectional self-report survey of emergency nurses (n = 101) in Melbourne, Australia. Results Mean scores were 12.7 (SD 2.66) for the 25-item knowledge of older persons questionnaire, and 9.04 (SD 1.80) for the 15-item gerontic health related questions. Scores were unaffected by years of experience as a registered nurse or emergency nurse. More than 80% of nurses rated themselves as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ in assessing pain (94.9%), identifying delirium (87.8%), and identifying dementia (82.8%). Areas with a ‘poor’ ratings were identifying depression (46.5%), assessing polypharmacy (46.5%) and assessing nutrition (37.8%). Conclusions There was variation in knowledge and self-rating of practice related to care of older patients. The relationship between knowledge and self-ratings of practice in relation to actual emergency nursing care of older people and patient outcomes warrants further exploration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Emergency Nursing Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aged
  • Elderly
  • Emergency nursing
  • Emergency service
  • Geriatric nursing
  • Healthcare delivery

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