Aline Gabrício Marçola, Gabriela Cabett Cipolli, Danyela Casadei Donatelli, Nivaldo Carneiro Júnior, Vânia Barbosa do Nascimento

A look at vulnerability in the older population in health sciences studies: a systematic review

The objective of this study was to systematically investigate and review studies on the concept of vulnerability associated with the health of the older population. Articles were selected, filtered, and analyzed following the steps recommended by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Screening and data extraction were performed independently by 2 reviewers using templates developed by the authors. Data extracted included specific details about population, interest, and context. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they: 1) were cross-sectional or prospective, 2) involved community-dwellers aged ≥60 years, 3) were published in the last 10 years, and 4) had as a concept vulnerability associated with the health of the older population. A total of 833 studies were identified and screened, 26 of which were included. Most included studies addressed vulnerability in older adults as an individual aspect, whether biological or psychological. The remaining studies reported vulnerability as affecting socio-environmental, health care system, and multifactorial aspects. Therefore, the concept of “vulnerability in older people” was not properly defined in the biomedical scientific community. When we return to the guiding question of this review, we can conclude that the conditions of vulnerability of older people are being treated broadly and diversely, producing different methodological strategies. The systematic review was conducted in the United States National Library of Medicine (PubMed), Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS), and Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) databases between August and December 2020 and updated in September 2022, with registration number CRD42022361649.

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