Clinician Article

Adverse outcomes in older adults attending emergency departments: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the Identification of Seniors At Risk (ISAR) screening tool.

  • Galvin R
  • Gilleit Y
  • Wallace E
  • Cousins G
  • Bolmer M
  • Rainer T, et al.
Age Ageing. 2017 Mar 1;46(2):179-186. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw233. (Review)
PMID: 27989992
Read abstract
  • Geriatrics
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • Emergency Medicine
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 4/7
  • Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • Internal Medicine
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7


Background: older adults are frequent users of emergency services and demonstrate high rates of adverse outcomes following emergency care.

Objective: to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the Identification of Seniors At Risk (ISAR) screening tool, to determine its predictive value in identifying adults =65 years at risk of functional decline, unplanned emergency department (ED) readmission, emergency hospitalisation or death within 180 days after index ED visit/hospitalisation.

Methods: a systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, EBSCO and the Cochrane Library to identify validation and impact analysis studies of the ISAR tool. A pre-specified ISAR score of =2 (maximum score 6 points) was used to identify patients at high risk of adverse outcomes. A bivariate random effects model generated pooled estimates of sensitivity and specificity. Statistical heterogeneity was explored and methodological quality was assessed using validated criteria.

Results: thirty-two validation studies (n = 12,939) are included. At =2, the pooled sensitivity of the ISAR for predicting ED return, emergency hospitalisation and mortality at 6 months is 0.80 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.70-0.87), 0.82 (95% CI 0.74-0.88) and 0.87 (95% CI 0.75-0.94), respectively, with a pooled specificity of 0.31 (95% CI 0.24-0.38), 0.32 (95% CI 0.24-0.41) and 0.35 (95% CI 0.26-0.44). Similar values are demonstrated at 30 and 90 days. Three heterogeneous impact analysis studies examined the clinical implementation of the ISAR and reported mixed findings across patient and process outcomes.

Conclusion: the ISAR has modest predictive accuracy and may serve as a decision-making adjunct when determining which older adults can be safely discharged.

Clinical Comments


This Information is important for Geriatricians, especially to correctly specify the pros/cons of the ISAR. As it is rather a tool to be used within a decision algorithm instead of a one shot wonder. It's good to have a SR and MA for that purpose.

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.

Support for the Portal is largely provided by the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative. AGE-WELL is a contributing partner. Help us to continue to provide direct and easy access to evidence-based information on health and social conditions to help you stay healthy, active and engaged as you grow older. Donate Today.

© 2012 - 2020 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use