The purpose of this study is to: 1) evaluate the reliability and validity of EMS screening
for depression and cognitive impairment and 2) to develop a pilot ED intervention program to
address the needs of older adults found to be at risk for depression and cognitive
Many older adults (age over 64) have undetected health problems and lack basic prevention
measures. Failure to identify and treat these conditions can lead to unnecessary morbidity
and mortality and a decreased quality of life. Traditional screening and intervention
programs, usually based in primary care providers' offices, have been insufficient,
particularly in medically underserved populations. Alternate sites for screening and
intervention have begun to receive attention and may hold promise.
The emergency medical services (EMS) system is a unique, community-wide system that can be
used to perform in-home evaluations to uniformly screen large numbers of vulnerable older
adults during emergency responses. The emergency department (ED) is the entry point for
access to medical and social services for many patients. Recent programs have used the EMS
system to screen patients or the ED to screen and intervene with mixed results, but little
has been done to rigorously evaluate an integrated program of EMS screening that leads to
focused ED interventions that promote the health of older adults. This proposed project
builds upon the principal investigator's preliminary work and unique resources in Rochester,
NY to develop and evaluate a program of EMS screening and ED interventions to help
community-dwelling older adults with unmet needs. Specifically, this study aims to:
1. Implement an EMS screening program to identify community-dwelling older adults' unmet
needs during emergency responses, identifying patients with needs related to depression
2. Evaluate the test-retest reliability and concurrent criterion validity of EMS screening
for depression and cognitive impairment.
3. Develop and refine an EMS and ED intervention program that addresses the needs of older
adults found by EMS to be at risk for depression and cognitive impairment.
Upon completion, this study will have demonstrated the reliability and validity of EMS
screening for these conditions and will have proposed an EMS and ED based intervention
program template that can be applied to these and a wider range of geriatric disorders.
- age 65 or older, cared for by participating EMS providers
- too ill to participate, not transported to participating hospitals