Gastrointestinal motility is important for adequate uptake of fluids and nutrition but is often impaired in hospitalised patients. Prokinetic agents enhance gastrointestinal motility and are prescribed for many hospitalised patients. In this scoping review, we aimed to systematically describe the body of evidence on the use of prokinetic agents in hospitalised patients. We hypothesised, that the body of evidence would be limited and derive from heterogeneous populations. We conducted this scoping review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews statement. We searched Medline, Embase, Epistemonikos and the Cochrane Library for studies assessing the use of prokinetic agents on any indication and outcome in adult hospitalised patients. We used a modified version of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) to assess the certainty of evidence. We included 102 studies with a total of 8830 patients. Eighty-six studies were clinical trials (84%), and 52 (60%) of these were conducted in the intensive care unit, with feeding intolerance as the main indication. In the non-intensive care setting the indications were wider; most studies assessed use of prokinetic agents before gastroscopy to improve visualisation. The most studied prokinetic agent was metoclopramide (49% of studies) followed by erythromycin (31%). In total 147 outcomes were assessed with only 67% of the included studies assessing patient-centred outcomes, and with gastric emptying as the most frequently reported outcome. Overall, the data provided no firm evidence on the balance between the desirable and undesirable effects of prokinetic agents. In this scoping review, we found that the studies addressing prokinetic agents in hospitalised adults had considerable variations in indications, drugs and outcomes assessed, and that the certainty of evidence was judged to be low to very low.

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