Referral to geriatric rehabilitation: a scoping review of triage factors in acutely hospitalised older patients

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OBJECTIVE: Old or frail acutely hospitalised patients can benefit from geriatric rehabilitation but criteria concerning referral decisions are unclear. This review presents an overview of clinical factors associated with referral to geriatric rehabilitation that may further consensus between hospital and rehabilitation professionals on triage. DESIGN: Scoping review. METHODS: A review was conducted following Arksey and O'Malley's framework. The search included literature concerning a broad spectrum of acutely hospitalised patients and factors associated with their referral to geriatric rehabilitation. RESULTS: Selected abstracts were categorised into distinct geriatric rehabilitation care pathways such as stroke, hip fracture, amputation of lower limb, cardiac and oncologic rehabilitation. Abstracts on internal medical patients were further reviewed and 29 studies were included. A total of 13 studies focused on factors identifying rehabilitation needs and 16 on factors associated with outcome of geriatric rehabilitation. Triage factors were diverse and included frailty status, functional decline, cognitive symptoms and multimorbidity. Mood symptoms and living situation further specified post-acute care needs. In overview, triage factors could be characterised as demographic (n = 4), diagnosis-related (n = 8), mental (n = 6), functional (n = 10) or multi-domain (n = 12) and mapped in a transitional care pathway. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Frailty and functional decline are characteristics frequently associated with referral to geriatric rehabilitation of acutely hospitalised internal medical patients. A comprehensive geriatric assessment or a simpler multi-domain set of tests reveals rehabilitation needs and approximates a functional prognosis. Professional consensus on factors and timing of triage in hospital is within reach.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberafac015
JournalAge and ageing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • frailty
  • geriatric rehabilitation
  • older people
  • post-acute care
  • rehabilitation needs
  • triage

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