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Characteristics of dementia-friendly hospitals: an integrative review



Dementia-friendly initiatives are becoming common in society, politics, and research, including health care. Regarding efforts to improve care for patients with dementia in hospitals, the term dementia-friendly hospital is being used increasingly. However, a theoretical understanding of this term and the underlying concept are missing. This integrative review aims to identify current descriptions of dementia-friendly hospitals and to analyze their characteristics.


An integrative review was conducted. The databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycInfo, Cochrane Library, and additional resources were searched. Two reviewers independently screened publications for inclusion. We extracted data from the included publications and analyzed the descriptions of dementia-friendly hospitals using inductive content analysis in an iterative process.


We identified 4191 records and included 34 publications on 17 descriptions of dementia-friendly hospitals. These were found in the context of practice projects (n = 8), recommendations (n = 6) and research (n = 3). Our analysis resulted in six characteristics of dementia-friendly hospitals. Characteristics related to the patients and their care are continuity, person-centeredness, consideration of phenomena within dementia and environment. Additional characteristics are valuing relatives and knowledge and expertise within the hospital.


Dementia-friendly hospitals are currently characterized more by healthcare practices and professional dementia experts than by the results of empirical studies. Additionally, the perspective of people with dementia is underrepresented in current descriptions. Accordingly, further research is needed that involves people with dementia in order to develop a theoretical understanding and suitable concepts of dementia-friendly hospitals, since their perspective is essential.

Peer Review reports


Dementia-friendly initiatives are becoming more and more common in a variety of settings, such as dementia-friendly communities [1], prisons [2], the arts [3], environmental design [4] and healthcare [5] and targeted in national dementia plans [6, 7]. The World Health Organization’s global action plan set a target to establish at least one dementia-friendly initiative in 50% of countries by 2025 [8]. Dementia-friendly initiatives focus on people with dementia and the protection of their human rights, their integration into society and the reduction in stigma [8]. They aim to create a supportive, inclusive and empowering social and physical environment for people with dementia, their families and caregivers [8, 9].

The term “dementia-friendly” is also increasingly used in international publications and national dementia strategies in the context of hospitals [10,11,12]. Hospitals are in general an unbefitting environment for people with dementia because of functional care, processes, architecture, noise and the presence of strangers [13,14,15]. Hospitalization is a burden for this patient group and their relatives [13, 14] and is associated with negative experiences for both of them [16,17,18]. Patients with dementia described their hospital experiences as feeling lost in the environment, being an outsider, boredom, and a lack of intersubjective relationships [18]. Additionally, a hospital stay is often associated with various adverse events and leads to poor outcomes for patients with dementia, such as a longer hospital stay, postoperative complications or moving into a nursing home [13].

To improve the care of patients with dementia in hospitals, various efforts have been made, including the creation of dementia-friendly hospitals (DFHs). However, the term DFH is used heterogeneously, and a theoretical understanding of DFHs as well as the underlying concept are lacking.

Scientific overviews of dementia-friendly discourses in policy documents [19] and dementia-friendly initiatives in research exist [9, 20]; however, there is a lack of literature reviews focusing on DFHs.

To close this research gap, we conducted an integrative review with the objectives (a) to identify current descriptions of DFHs and (b) to analyze the characteristics of DFHs.


An integrative review according to Whittemore and Knafl [21] was conducted to identify a broad range of descriptions of DFHs from different types of literature and to analyze them comprehensively. An internal pre-established review protocol guided the process.

Literature search

We decided to include research and non-research publications based on our review objectives. Accordingly, we conducted a comprehensive literature search to identify both types of publications. For the research publications, a systematic literature search in the databases MEDLINE (via PubMed), CINAHL (via Ebsco), Cochrane Library and PsycInfo (via Ebsco) was performed (latest search in March 2022). We derived the search terms first from our review objectives and then from the results of an initial publication search. We used indexing words and free search terms, which we clustered according to the PICo scheme (population, phenomenon of interest, context) [22]. The search string was developed by the first reviewer (CM) and checked by the second reviewers (DP, MR) using Peer Review of Electronic Search Strategies (PRESS) [23]. (The MEDLINE search string is shown in Additional file 2). Owing to the non-research publications also included, which are mainly gray literature, further search strategies were conducted following Godin et al. [24]. Accordingly, two gray literature databases (OpenGrey, Grey Literature Report), two subject databases (GeroLit, CareLit), three search engines (Google, Google Scholar, Livivo) and targeted websites (e.g., the Alzheimer’s Association) were searched. For this purpose, we created simpler search strings based on the MEDLINE search string or, if this was not applicable, we used a simple combination of the search terms. For a Google search, we conducted a systematic procedure [24] and defined various simple search strings in English and German (Additional file 3). In addition, we performed forward citation tracking for the research publications via Google Scholar and backward citation tracking for all publications included.

Publication selection

We included research and non-research publications containing descriptions of DFHs. The description had to provide content regarding what constitutes a DFH (e.g., contributions including concepts, several components and/or several characteristics of DFHs). Individual components (e.g., special care units) or dementia-friendly initiatives with a narrowed focus (e.g., dementia-friendly education, dementia-friendly environmental design) were only included if they were part of a concept of a DFH and a publication on the whole concept had been published. The term “dementia-friendly hospital” or similar terms such as “dementia-sensitive hospital” had to be used explicitly. Publications published in German and English from 2010 onwards were included. The detailed inclusion criteria are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Eligibility criteria

Two reviewers (Reviewer 1: CM, Reviewer 2: DP, MR) independently screened first the titles and abstracts and then the full texts of the potentially relevant publications, against the inclusion criteria (Table 1) using Covidence [25]. The Google search screening process was carried out following Godin et al. [24]. To capture as many of the most relevant hits as possible but also a feasible number to screen, the title and the short description underneath the first 150 hits of each search string were screened by one reviewer (CM). Potentially relevant publications were bookmarked, recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and screened in full text by two reviewers (CM, DP) independently against the inclusion criteria. The search was recorded in an Excel spreadsheet. All conflicts in the screening process were solved together by the screening team (CM, DP, MR).

Data extraction

We merged several publications of the same study, recommendation or project and counted them as one description of a DFH because they contained essentially the same components of a DFH and differed in their level of detail or included supplementary information (e.g., on project evaluation, participants, funding). Therefore, we grouped the included publications into primary and additional publications. Publications with the more detailed description of a DFH were referred to as primary publications. Publications with less information on the DFH or only containing supplementary information were referred to as additional publications.

We created a standardized form to extract the following information from the included publications: general information on the publications (e.g., author, year, country, publication type, funding), information on the study, recommendation, or practice project (e.g., aim, design/methods, participants, target group) and information on the phenomenon of interest (e.g., term, definition, development, target group, hospital, key components). The data were extracted by one reviewer (CM or AR) and checked by a second reviewer (CM or DP).

Data evaluation

The aims of our review were to identify and analyze the current descriptions of DFHs, regardless of the publication quality or type. Each description of a DFH was assumed to contribute to the understanding of DFHs. Since the quality of the article was not relevant for our review aims and would not have influenced our publication selection, analysis (e.g., weighting of studies and practice projects) or results, we did not perform a quality assessment of the included publications [21].

Data analysis

First, we used the extracted data for a detailed illustration of the included descriptions. Then, we analyzed the included descriptions of DFHs using inductive content analysis [26] in an iterative process to identify the characteristics of DFHs. The description of the primary publication was analyzed first and then the analysis was supplemented by the descriptions from the additional publications, if available. The inductive content analysis process was divided into open coding, creating categories and abstraction [26]. First, the descriptions of DFHs were read intensively, notes and headings were made and subcategories were created. Then similar subcategories were grouped into categories and these were grouped depending on their content to create main categories [26]. The analysis was carried out by two reviewers (CM, DP) independently. The categories of the two reviewers were regularly discussed and merged during the analysis process by the screening team (CM, DP, MR) until all descriptions had been analyzed. Abstraction at the level of the main categories was carried out together in the screening team. Finally, the category system was peer-checked, discussed and adapted by the entire review team (CM, DP, AR, CK, MR). For the data analysis, we used MAXQDA 2020.4.1 [27], and for the graphical presentation, SimpleMind [28].


We identified a total of 4191 records via databases and other methods. After deduplication, 3470 titles and abstracts were screened for inclusion. Of these, 528 publications were screened in full text. Most publications were excluded in the full-text screening because the term DFH was used but not specified at all or described in detail (n = 189). Finally, we included 34 publications on 17 different descriptions of DFHs (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1
figure 1

PRISMA 2020 flow diagram [63]

Included descriptions of DFHs

Descriptions of DFHs were mostly found in publications of practice projects (n = 8) [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36], followed by recommendations (n = 6) from federal organizations, national alliances, foundations or professional dementia experts [37,38,39,40,41,42] and research publications (n = 3) [43,44,45]. We included descriptions from Germany (n = 12) [29,30,31, 33,34,35,36, 38, 39, 42, 45], Austria (n = 2) [37, 41], England (n = 1) [40], Denmark (n = 1) [43] and Taiwan (n = 1) [44].

Most of the descriptions of DFHs reflected the perspective of healthcare professionals or professional experts in the field (n = 14) [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39, 41, 42, 45, 46]. Two of the descriptions included the perspectives of people with dementia and relatives of people with dementia [43, 44], while three of the descriptions included the perspective of representatives of people with dementia (e.g., the Alzheimer’s Association) [43, 46, 47]. Additionally, some descriptions of DFHs used the SPACE principles[48] of the Royal College of Nursing [37, 40, 41, 45] and one the palliative care concept of Silviahemmet [29] as an underlying concept.

The descriptions consisted of several components of DFHs [30, 38, 40, 41, 43,44,45] or concepts of DFHs [29, 31,32,33,34,35,36,37, 39, 42]. Three of these descriptions included an explicit definition of DFHs [39, 41, 45].

A detailed illustration of all included descriptions is provided in Table 2.

Table 2 Included descriptions of DFHs

Characteristics of DFHs

We identified six characteristics of DFHs based on the analysis of the included descriptions: continuity, person-centeredness, consideration of phenomena within dementia, environment, valuing relatives and knowledge and expertise (the full description is presented in Additional file 4). Figure 2 shows an overview of all characteristics.

Fig. 2
figure 2

Overview of DFH characteristics


Continuity for both the patient with dementia and their care during and after the hospital stay can be created through these aspects: staff, location, daily structure, companionship, being informed, planning in advance and crossing sector boundaries. The staff involved in patient care are characterized by the same people [32, 34, 36, 38, 39, 42, 46, 49], a small group [31, 42] and fixed professional contact persons. These contact persons are described at the level of information and coordination for relatives and external healthcare providers [35, 36, 39, 41, 42, 46] and at the level of a person trusted by patient [31, 34, 39, 42]. Furthermore, to create continuity regarding the location, two different strategies are described. First, diagnostics and treatment are carried out in the patient’s room, if possible, so that the patient does not have to leave familiar surroundings [29, 31, 38, 39, 41, 50]. Second, transferring the patient within the hospital or ward is minimized as far as possible [31, 34, 36,37,38,39,40, 42, 45, 50]. Additionally, patients with dementia are supported in structuring their day during the hospital stay, with activities [29, 31, 32, 36,37,38,39, 42, 45]. The daily structure is tailored to the patient and their daily rhythm. This is also considered in hospital procedures, such as medical examinations, meals or personal hygiene [29, 31, 34, 38, 39, 41, 42, 49,50,51]. Furthermore, the patient is in the company of relatives or hospital staff who are as familiar with them as possible (companionship). Depending on the patient’s needs, there is someone close by on the ward or in the patient’s room to keep them company and to monitor them [31, 34, 37,38,39, 41, 42, 45, 46]. Additionally, the patient is offered social activities in the company of staff, volunteers or other patients [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39, 41, 42, 45]. Outside the ward, the patient is escorted by a (familiar) person (e.g., staff, volunteers or relatives) during the admission process [33, 39, 42, 43], to or during examinations [29, 31, 34, 39, 41, 42, 50] and/or surgery [31, 35, 39, 42]. Being informed is another aspect of continuity. This means that all professionals involved in patient care have the necessary information to care for the patient during the hospital stay and beyond [38, 39, 41, 42]. It is not always possible for the patient to provide the information themselves, so sharing information with third parties such as internal [34, 36,37,38,39, 41, 42] and external healthcare professionals is essential [30, 33, 37,38,39,40,41,42, 45]. This includes general information about the patient’s condition, symptoms, care or treatment [36, 37, 39, 41, 42], and dementia-specific information, especially the dementia diagnosis [36,37,38,39, 42, 43]. Planning in advance refers to admission [35, 42, 52], the hospital stay [29, 31, 35, 37, 39,40,41,42, 44, 45, 53] and discharge [33, 34, 36,37,38,39,40,41,42], which allows the early initiation of interventions that characterize the care of DFHs. For example, during the hospital stay, an early identification of cognitive impairment or dementia is sought to allow early consideration of dementia in the patient’s care [35, 41, 42, 45, 53], and surgical procedures and examinations are planned in advanced so that the patient can avoid waiting times [29, 31, 37, 39, 41, 42, 44, 46]. Additionally, crossing sector boundaries by working together [32, 35, 37,38,39,40, 42, 44] and networking [34, 38, 39, 42, 45, 46, 53] with other external healthcare providers is targeted to enable coordinated care and to know and develop regional structures.


Person-centeredness in a DFH is characterized by the following aspects: knowing the person, attitude toward the person and caring for the person with dementia in a person-centered way. Knowing or getting to know the person with dementia means not only knowing the usual information collected in the hospital, such as medical history, but also the person beyond that. To get to know the person, information such as their behavior [32, 33, 38, 42, 54], their habits [32, 33, 36,37,38,39, 42, 50], their preferences [33, 36,37,38,39,40,41,42], their biography [31, 32, 38, 39, 41,42,43, 45, 46, 54] and their relatives and social circumstances [37, 39, 42, 43] are needed. However, there are different views on this kind of information. In the study by Toubol et al. [43], participants with dementia and relatives of people with dementia believe that general information (e.g., current condition, how to fulfill their needs) is sufficient and that there is no need to know everything about the patient’s personal life. However, biographical information is seen by professionals as important for conversations, relationship building and tailored care [32, 39, 41,42,43]. The attitude of staff toward the person with dementia is characterized by seeing the patient with dementia as a person and not reducing him or her to the diagnosis [36, 38, 39, 42, 43, 54]. Additionally, this attitude is characterized by empathy [30, 33, 36, 39, 42, 43, 46, 54], respect and appreciation [33, 34, 39, 40, 42,43,44]. Knowing the person together with the attitude of the staff provide a basis for caring for the person, which is characterized by a positive personal relationship [31, 32, 39, 42, 43, 52], the promotion and preservation of the patient’s autonomy and self-determination[30, 38, 40, 42, 43, 52] and tailored care [30, 32, 33, 35, 37,38,39,40,41,42,43, 45, 46].

Consideration of phenomena within dementia

The focus of care in a DFH is not only on the acute health problem but also on dementia and its consequences for care. Accordingly, dementia itself and dementia-specific symptoms regarding cognition, communication, behavior, and everyday competences are considered in a DFH (What? Phenomena) [29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39, 41, 42, 45]. Additionally, other care phenomena and risks − nutrition, delirium, medication or pain − are considered in the context of dementia [30, 31, 33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40, 42, 45, 46]. Therefore, different methods of identification, diagnostics, prevention, treatment and care interventions are described (How? Methods). Dementia-specific symptoms, other care phenomena and risks are identified and diagnosed via assessments appropriate for the patient group and medical and/or nursing anamnesis [30, 31, 33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40, 42, 45, 46]. Risks are reduced or avoided by preventive measures such as monitoring (e.g., nutrition protocols), adapting existing processes and treatments (e.g., medication orders, anesthesia) and other interventions (e.g,. hip protectors, finger foods) [30, 31, 33,34,35,36,37, 39,40,41,42, 45, 46]. Dementia-specific symptoms and other care phenomena are prevented, treated and taken care of by psychosocial and other non-pharmacological interventions (e.g., aromatherapy, music therapy, cold/heat application for pain) or an adequate pharmacological approach when appropriate (e.g., dementia medication, pain relievers) [31,32,33, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 45, 47, 51, 54].


Another characteristic of a DFH is an environment that supports the patient in terms of orientation, activation, familiarity, calm, independence and safety. Different temporal orientation aids (e.g., clocks, calendars, light concepts) [31, 33, 36,37,38,39, 41, 42, 45, 46, 52] and local and situational guidance (e.g., color coding and contrasts, signs, information boards) [29,30,31, 33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43, 45] are described to promote the orientation of the patient with dementia in a DFH. Furthermore, the environment provides space for activation in terms of social interaction, movement and activities (e.g., seating areas, common room) [29,30,31,32,33, 36,37,38,39,40,41,42, 45] and activity items that patients can use to occupy themselves independently (e.g., newspapers, radio, television) [30, 31, 37,38,39, 42]. A familiar person around the patient [30, 31, 38, 39, 41,42,43, 52], personal items [30, 37,38,39, 41, 42, 52], homelike design (e.g., homelike furniture, pictures) [30, 31, 33, 38, 39, 42, 43], and customizable interiors (i.e., interior can be arranged as per individual preferences) [36,37,38, 41, 42] to create an environment that is familiar to the patient. Moreover, an environment is created that contributes to a feeling of calm by reducing environmental stimuli (e.g., separate areas, noise reduction) [29,30,31,32, 34, 36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43, 45] and providing comforts (e.g., comfortable resting options, temperature adjustments) [39, 42]. Additionally, the environment is characterized by promoting the patient’s independence while providing safety via various aids (e.g., special beds, automatic lighting systems) [30, 35,36,37,38,39, 41,42,43, 45, 46] and measures that enable independent access to and use of the premises [31, 33, 37,38,39, 41, 42, 45, 46] or limit access to hazards and exits [30, 32, 36,37,38,39, 42].

Valuing relatives

Relatives (i.e., close contacts, both family and non-family members) are valued by DFHs and their staff. Relatives are always welcome in the hospital, which means there is a welcoming culture with flexible visiting hours so that relatives can be with the patient at any time [33, 37, 40, 41, 49, 51]. This is also reflected in the hospital’s structures and services, such as rooming-in [30, 31, 33, 36,37,38,39,40,41,42, 45, 46], and rooms and interior spaces for relatives (e.g., retreat areas, seating options) [39, 41, 42]. Additionally, relatives are recognized as experts due to their experience with the patient and are valued for this (recognition) [30, 32, 33, 35, 38,39,40,41,42, 45, 54] and as partners in the patient’s care [37,38,39,40, 42, 46]. Valuing relatives also means enabling them to be involved during the patient’s hospital stay. The involvement can occur in different ways through receiving and providing information [30, 32, 33, 36,37,38,39, 41, 42, 45], mediation between patient and hospital staff [30, 35, 38, 39, 42, 43, 54], active or passive involvement in care [29,30,31, 33, 35, 37,38,39,40,41,42,43] or decision-making [36, 38,39,40,41,42]. The degree of involvement considers the patient’s and relatives’ wishes, burdens and capabilities [30, 38,39,40,41,42,43]. Additionally, relatives are also taken care of by staff who recognize and consider their needs [30, 38, 40, 42, 46] and offer them tailored support in terms of knowledge about dementia, post-acute care and self-care [30,31,32, 34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42, 44,45,46].

Knowledge and expertise

In a DFH, both dementia-specific and multiprofessional knowledge and expertise are available. Dementia-specific knowledge and expertise are available at a basic level for all hospital staff [30, 31, 35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43, 45, 46]. In addition, there are dementia or geriatric experts (at ward or hospital level) who can be involved in the care of patients with dementia and support the health care staff [30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42, 45]. Moreover, there is multiprofessional knowledge and expertise available for the care of patients with dementia. Therefore, professionals from diverse disciplines are involved in care, and find different ways of working together, such as holding multiprofessional team meetings or case conferences, to bundle their expertise and knowledge [31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42, 45, 46, 49, 53].

Characteristics related to the context of the description

All of the six characteristics of DFHs that we identified through our inductive content analysis were found in publications of practice projects, recommendations and research publications. All subcategories of the characteristics are essentially presented in their entirety in the publications of practice projects and recommendations. We identified fewer subcategories for all characteristics in two of the three included research publications [43, 44]. In particular, the characteristic consideration of phenomena within dementia were not represented and only individual subcategories of the characteristics continuity and knowledge and expertise could be identified in these publications. These publications included the perspectives of people with dementia and their relatives, in contrast to the other publications which contained primarily the perspective of healthcare professionals or professional experts (Additional file 5 presents the characteristics in relation to each description).


To our knowledge, our integrative review provides for the first time, a comprehensive overview of current descriptions of DFHs based on a systematic method and the inclusion of different types of literature. Moreover, our analysis clusters and synthesizes the characteristics of DFHs and presents them in a new, comprehensive manner.

The term DFH was frequently used in all types of international literature, including research publications, but was rarely described. Even in the 17 descriptions included, only three provided a definition of the term, and some only described several components of DFHs without explicitly explaining what constitutes a DFH in its entirety. However, the described key components of DFHs did not differ substantially.

We found that the term DFH is more often described in publications of practice projects and recommendations than in research publications. Few of the descriptions were the result of an empirical study. Moreover, most of the included descriptions of DFHs were based solely on the perspective of healthcare professionals or other experts in this field. The perspective of people with dementia was rarely included, and only one description included different perspectives. Our results confirm that the involvement of people with dementia in the development of dementia-friendly initiatives is underrepresented [9]. However, to develop a concept of DFHs that is suitable for patients with dementia, it is essential to involve people with dementia in the development, since they are the only experts on what it feels like to live with dementia and only they can provide this unique perspective on the topic [55,56,57]. In particular, this would allow a differentiated view and a critical reflection on measures reported in the included descriptions, such as limited access to exits or the collection of personal information, as the study by Toubol et al. [43] partially shows. Nevertheless, it is important to involve different stakeholder groups — people with dementia, their relatives, healthcare professionals and researchers — in the development of DFHs. This approach would lead to suitable concepts in a more differentiated and targeted way, and inappropriate interventions could be reduced.

We identified six characteristics of DFHs: continuity, person-centeredness, consideration of phenomena within dementia, environment, valuing relatives and knowledge and expertise. These characteristics address the needs of patients with dementia, their relatives and healthcare professionals as identified in other studies [15, 16, 58,59,60,61]. In particular, person-centeredness is a central topic in other studies that interviewed patients with dementia and their relatives. Aspects, such as being accepted and treated as a valued person, being involved in their own care and conversations, and receiving personalized and tailored care, are described in these studies and seem to be important for this patient group [16, 58, 60, 61]. In contrast to current initiatives for an age-friendly health system such as the 4Ms framework (What Matters, Medication, Mentation and Mobility) [62], which, among other things, considers the mentation of older people, the characteristics of a DFH we identified seem to address the needs of people with dementia more specifically and comprehensively.

In addition to the needs of people with dementia, their relatives and healthcare professionals, the characteristics we identified are also reflected in the goals of dementia-friendly initiatives in general. Accordingly, raising awareness about people with dementia, maintenance of their human rights, care that meets their needs and a supportive environment for them and their relatives [8] seems to be an overriding goal of DFHs. However, these goals can only be achieved by listening to and understanding people with dementia as “experts by experience” [55, 57] and incorporating their perspectives into current healthcare practice and concepts of DFHs.


There are potential limitations of our integrative review that need to be considered. We only included publications in English and German. This may have led to a bias, especially regarding the non-research literature, which is often published in the native languages. We conducted a comprehensive search of databases and used different strategies to identify non-research literature, but we might have missed publications or descriptions on the topic.

In addition, it should be noted that only publications that included a detailed description of DFHs were included; this may have biased the results. This review focused on DFHs; accordingly, only publications with this or similar terms (e.g., “dementia-sensitive”) were considered to specify the understanding of DFHs. Publications without the term were excluded, which might have resulted in similar concepts described in other terms being overlooked.


Our integrative review provides an overview of current international descriptions of DFHs. Moreover, our analysis provides an initial understanding of DFHs and their characteristics and contribute to a consistent terminology of DFHs in the future. Although our identified characteristics are consistent with the needs of patients with dementia, it is important to keep in mind that these results are mainly derived from descriptions of DFHs based on the perspective of healthcare professionals and professional dementia experts. Accordingly, these characteristics can only be used as orientation for health care practice and research at this stage. However, our results can contribute to raising the awareness of healthcare professionals. Based on our identified characteristics of DFHs, healthcare professionals can reflect on their provision of care, hospital structures and processes and thus provide an impulse to move towards a DFH. For researchers, our results are important because they form an essential basis for further research in this field. Additionally, future research needs to explore synergies and overlaps between DFHs and other approaches such as age-friendly initiatives (e.g., 4Ms framework). This includes exploring whether these initiatives could be supplemented by aspects of DFHs. Based on our review results, future research needs to consider the following: (1) to reflect the characteristics of DFHs with people with dementia, their relatives and healthcare professionals, (2) to operationalize and tailor the characteristics of DFHs together with these target groups, and (3) to implement and evaluate the characteristics of DFHs across hospitals (nationally and internationally) so that country-specific and cross-country comparisons become possible. Since the perspective of people with dementia and their relatives on DFHs was underrepresented in the included descriptions, it is of utmost importance to involve them in a participatory way in the future.

Availability of data and materials

All data generated or analyzed during this review are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.



Dementia-friendly hospital


Population, phenomenon of interest, context


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We thank Dr. Iris Hochgraeber, Dr. Christiane Pinkert and Mike Rommerskirch-Manietta for supporting the author team with their feedback and comments.


Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. This research received funding from the internal grant program (project IFF 2020–30) of the Faculty of Health at Witten/Herdecke University, Germany.

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CM, DP and MR were responsible for the conception of the study design. CM conducted the literature search. DP, CK and MR assisted in the identification of the electronic databases and reviewed the keywords and the search string. CM, DP and MR performed the screening process. CM, DP and AR extracted the data. Data analysis and interpretation were performed by CM, DP and MR and discussed by all authors. CM wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. DP, AR, CK, and MR revised the manuscript. CK and MR are supervisors of this project. All authors substantially contributed to the manuscript and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Christina Manietta.

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Supplementary Information

Additional file 1.

PRISMA checklist.

Additional file 2.

Search strategy example in Medline.

Additional file 3.

Google search.

Additional file 4.

Detailed description of DFH characteristics.

Additional file 5.

Overview of characteristics in each description.

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Manietta, C., Purwins, D., Reinhard, A. et al. Characteristics of dementia-friendly hospitals: an integrative review. BMC Geriatr 22, 468 (2022).

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  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Acute care
  • Hospital
  • Dementia-sensitive