Rehabilitation for people with dementia following a hip fracture operation


Hip fracture is an injury primarily of elderly people, which is usually caused by a fall. It can affect a person's ability to walk, perform activities of daily living, and remain independent. Hip fracture is more common in people with dementia, and these individuals can find it more difficult to recover because they are at greater risk of becoming more confused and developing additional complications such as pressure sores and chest infections after surgery. They may also find it more difficult to express pain and discomfort.

Review question

We wanted to learn whether different ways of treating people with dementia following hip fracture might affect how well they recover and what the associated costs of their recovery might be. This is an update of a previous Cochrane Review.

Study characteristics

We searched for randomised controlled trials (a type of study in which participants are assigned to one of two or more treatment groups using a random method) that compared any model of enhanced care and rehabilitation for people with dementia after hip fracture versus the usual care provided in the trial setting. The latest search was performed on 16 October 2019.

We identified seven trials that studied a total of 555 people with dementia following hip fracture. Five trials compared an enhanced interdisciplinary rehabilitation and care programme where the various healthcare professionals worked collaboratively across hospital and community settings or just in hospital, to usual hospital care. Two trials compared care in-hospital led by a geriatrician versus care led by an orthopaedic surgeon.

Key findings

People with dementia who receive enhanced care and rehabilitation in hospital after a hip fracture may be less likely to develop delirium. When care is led by a geriatrician, they may have stays in hospital that are three to four days shorter than if care is led by an orthopaedic surgeon. There was no information on the effect of any of the care models on quality of life, and we could not be certain about their effects on other important outcomes such as an individual's ability to manage their daily activities, regaining mobility, cognitive function, pain, death rates, or the likelihood of the person returning to the same place they had been living before the fracture.

Quality of the evidence

The main issues with the evidence were that most of the studies were small and their results may have been subject to bias. Most of the results of the review are very uncertain. None of the care models had been designed specifically for people with dementia. All of the data included in the review came from people with dementia who had been included in larger trials for all older people with hip fractures, although people with dementia may have particular needs.


There may be some benefits from the care models studied, but the currently available research is insufficient to determine the best ways to care for people with dementia after a hip fracture operation.

Authors' conclusions: 

We found limited evidence that some of the models of enhanced rehabilitation and care used in the included trials may show benefits over usual care for preventing delirium and reducing length of stay for people with dementia who have been treated for hip fracture. However, the certainty of these results is low. Data were available from only a small number of trials, and the certainty for all other results is very low. Determining the optimal strategies to improve outcomes for this growing population of patients should be a research priority.

Read the full abstract...

Hip fracture is a major injury that causes significant problems for affected individuals and their family and carers. Over 40% of people with hip fracture have dementia or cognitive impairment. The outcomes of these individuals after surgery are poorer than for those without dementia. It is unclear which care and rehabilitation interventions achieve the best outcomes for these people. This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in 2013.


(a) To assess the effectiveness of models of care including enhanced rehabilitation strategies designed specifically for people with dementia following hip fracture surgery compared to usual care.

(b) To assess for people with dementia the effectiveness of models of care including enhanced rehabilitation strategies that are designed for all older people, regardless of cognitive status, following hip fracture surgery, compared to usual care.

Search strategy: 

We searched ALOIS (, the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group Specialised Register, MEDLINE (OvidSP), Embase (OvidSP), PsycINFO (OvidSP), CINAHL (EBSCOhost), Web of Science Core Collection (ISI Web of Science), LILACS (BIREME),, and the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform on 16 October 2019.

Selection criteria: 

We included randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of any model of enhanced care and rehabilitation for people with dementia after hip fracture surgery compared to usual care.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently selected trials for inclusion and extracted data. We assessed risk of bias of the included trials. We synthesised data only if we considered the trials to be sufficiently homogeneous in terms of participants, interventions, and outcomes. We used the GRADE approach to rate the overall certainty of evidence for each outcome.

Main results: 

We included seven trials with a total of 555 participants. Three trials compared models of enhanced care in the inpatient setting with conventional care. Two trials compared an enhanced care model provided in inpatient settings and at home after discharge with conventional care. Two trials compared geriatrician-led care in-hospital to conventional care led by the orthopaedic team. None of the interventions were designed specifically for people with dementia, therefore the data included in the review were from subgroups of people with dementia or cognitive impairment participating in randomised controlled trials investigating models of care for all older people following hip fracture. The end of follow-up in the trials ranged from the point of acute hospital discharge to 24 months after discharge.

We considered all trials to be at high risk of bias in more than one domain. As subgroups of larger trials, the analyses lacked power to detect differences between the intervention groups. Furthermore, there were some important differences in baseline characteristics of participants between the experimental and control groups. Using the GRADE approach, we downgraded the certainty of the evidence for all outcomes to low or very low.

The effect estimates for almost all comparisons were very imprecise, and the overall certainty for most results was very low. There were no data from any study for our primary outcome of health-related quality of life. There was only very low certainty for our other primary outcome, activities of daily living and functional performance, therefore we were unable to draw any conclusions with confidence. There was low-certainty that enhanced care and rehabilitation in-hospital may reduce rates of postoperative delirium (odds ratio 0.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01 to 0.22, 2 trials, n = 141) and very low-certainty associating it with lower rates of some other complications. There was also low-certainty that, compared to orthopaedic-led management, geriatrician-led management may lead to shorter hospital stays (mean difference 4.00 days, 95% CI 3.61 to 4.39, 1 trial, n = 162).