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1.  Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
To identify interventions that may be effective in reducing the probability of an elderly person’s falling and/or sustaining a fall-related injury.
Although estimates of fall rates vary widely based on the location, age, and living arrangements of the elderly population, it is estimated that each year approximately 30% of community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older, and 50% of those aged 85 and older will fall. Of those individuals who fall, 12% to 42% will have a fall-related injury.
Several meta-analyses and cohort studies have identified falls and fall-related injuries as a strong predictor of admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. It has been shown that the risk of LTC home admission is over 5 times higher in seniors who experienced 2 or more falls without injury, and over 10 times higher in seniors who experienced a fall causing serious injury.
Falls result from the interaction of a variety of risk factors that can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors are those that pertain to the physical, demographic, and health status of the individual, while extrinsic factors relate to the physical and socio-economic environment. Intrinsic risk factors can be further grouped into psychosocial/demographic risks, medical risks, risks associated with activity level and dependence, and medication risks. Commonly described extrinsic risks are tripping hazards, balance and slip hazards, and vision hazards.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Question
Since many risk factors for falls are modifiable, what interventions (devices, systems, programs) exist that reduce the risk of falls and/or fall-related injuries for community-dwelling seniors?
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion Criteria
English language;
published between January 2000 and September 2007;
population of community-dwelling seniors (majority aged 65+); and
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental trials, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses.
Exclusion Criteria
special populations (e.g., stroke or osteoporosis; however, studies restricted only to women were included);
studies only reporting surrogate outcomes; or
studies whose outcome cannot be extracted for meta-analysis.
Outcomes of Interest
number of fallers, and
number of falls resulting in injury/fracture.
Search Strategy
A search was performed in OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 2000 and September 2007. Furthermore, all studies included in a 2003 Cochrane review were considered for inclusion in this analysis. Abstracts were reviewed by a single author, and studies meeting the inclusion criteria outlined above were obtained. Studies were grouped based on intervention type, and data on population characteristics, fall outcomes, and study design were extracted. Reference lists were also checked for relevant studies. The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology.
Summary of Findings
The following 11 interventions were identified in the literature search: exercise programs, vision assessment and referral, cataract surgery, environmental modifications, vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D plus calcium supplementation, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medication withdrawal, gait-stabilizing devices, hip protectors, and multifactorial interventions.
Exercise programs were stratified into targeted programs where the exercise routine was tailored to the individuals’ needs, and untargeted programs that were identical among subjects. Furthermore, analyses were stratified by exercise program duration (<6 months and ≥6 months) and fall risk of study participants. Similarly, the analyses on the environmental modification studies were stratified by risk. Low-risk study participants had had no fall in the year prior to study entry, while high-risk participants had had at least one fall in the previous year.
A total of 17 studies investigating multifactorial interventions were identified in the literature search. Of these studies, 10 reported results for a high-risk population with previous falls, while 6 reported results for study participants representative of the general population. One study provided stratified results by fall risk, and therefore results from this study were included in each stratified analysis.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Falls in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Hazard ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Odds ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
High-quality evidence indicates that long-term exercise programs in mobile seniors and environmental modifications in the homes of frail elderly persons will effectively reduce falls and possibly fall-related injuries in Ontario’s elderly population.
A combination of vitamin D and calcium supplementation in elderly women will help reduce the risk of falls by more than 40%.
The use of outdoor gait-stabilizing devices for mobile seniors during the winter in Ontario may reduce falls and fall-related injuries; however, evidence is limited and more research is required in this area.
While psychotropic medication withdrawal may be an effective method for reducing falls, evidence is limited and long-term compliance has been demonstrated to be difficult to achieve.
Multifactorial interventions in high-risk populations may be effective; however, the effect is only marginally significant, and the quality of evidence is low.
PMCID: PMC3377567  PMID: 23074507
2.  Exercise for depression in elderly residents of care homes: a cluster-randomised controlled trial 
Lancet  2013;382(9886):41-49.
Depression is common and is associated with poor outcomes among elderly care-home residents. Exercise is a promising low-risk intervention for depression in this population. We tested the hypothesis that a moderate intensity exercise programme would reduce the burden of depressive symptoms in residents of care homes.
We did a cluster-randomised controlled trial in care homes in two regions in England; northeast London, and Coventry and Warwickshire. Residents aged 65 years or older were eligible for inclusion. A statistician independent of the study randomised each home (1 to 1·5 ratio, stratified by location, minimised by type of home provider [local authority, voluntary, private and care home, private and nursing home] and size of home [<32 or ≥32 residents]) into intervention and control groups. The intervention package included depression awareness training for care-home staff, 45 min physiotherapist-led group exercise sessions for residents (delivered twice weekly), and a whole home component designed to encourage more physical activity in daily life. The control consisted of only the depression awareness training. Researchers collecting follow-up data from individual participants and the participants themselves were inevitably aware of home randomisation because of the physiotherapists' activities within the home. A researcher masked to study allocation coded NHS routine data. The primary outcome was number of depressive symptoms on the geriatric depression scale-15 (GDS-15). Follow-up was for 12 months. This trial is registered with ISRCTN Register, number ISRCTN43769277.
Care homes were randomised between Dec 15, 2008, and April 9, 2010. At randomisation, 891 individuals in 78 care homes (35 intervention, 43 control) had provided baseline data. We delivered 3191 group exercise sessions attended on average by five study participants and five non-study residents. Of residents with a GDS-15 score, 374 of 765 (49%) were depressed at baseline; 484 of 765 (63%) provided 12 month follow-up scores. Overall the GDS-15 score was 0·13 (95% CI −0·33 to 0·60) points higher (worse) at 12 months for the intervention group compared with the control group. Among residents depressed at baseline, GDS-15 score was 0·22 (95% CI −0·52 to 0·95) points higher at 6 months in the intervention group than in the control group. In an end of study cross-sectional analysis, including 132 additional residents joining after randomisation, the odds of being depressed were 0·76 (95% CI 0·53 to 1·09) for the intervention group compared with the control group.
This moderately intense exercise programme did not reduce depressive symptoms in residents of care homes. In this frail population, alternative strategies to manage psychological symptoms are required.
National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment.
PMCID: PMC3919159  PMID: 23643112
3.  Changing Patterns in Place of Cancer Death in England: A Population-Based Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001410.
Wei Gao and colleagues describe how location of death has changed for patients with cancer in England between 1993 and 2010.
Most patients with cancer prefer to die at home or in a hospice, but hospitals remain the most common place of death (PoD).This study aims to explore the changing time trends of PoD and the associated factors, which are essential for end-of-life care improvement.
Methods and Findings
The study analysed all cancer deaths in England collected by the Office for National Statistics during 1993–2010 (n = 2,281,223). Time trends of age- and gender-standardised proportion of deaths in individual PoDs were evaluated using weighted piecewise linear regression. Variables associated with PoD (home or hospice versus hospital) were determined using proportion ratio (PR) derived from the log-binomial regression, adjusting for clustering effects. Hospital remained the most common PoD throughout the study period (48.0%; 95% CI 47.9%–48.0%), followed by home (24.5%; 95% CI 24.4%–24.5%), and hospice (16.4%; 95% CI 16.3%–16.4%). Home and hospice deaths increased since 2005 (0.87%; 95% CI 0.74%–0.99%/year, 0.24%; 95% CI 0.17%–0.32%/year, respectively, p<0.001), while hospital deaths declined (−1.20%; 95% CI −1.41 to −0.99/year, p<0.001). Patients who died from haematological cancer (PRs 0.46–0.52), who were single, widowed, or divorced (PRs 0.75–0.88), and aged over 75 (PRs 0.81–0.84 for 75–84; 0.66–0.72 for 85+) were less likely to die in home or hospice (p<0.001; reference groups: colorectal cancer, married, age 25–54). There was little improvement in patients with lung cancer of dying in home or hospice (PRs 0.87–0.88). Marital status became the second most important factor associated with PoD, after cancer type. Patients from less deprived areas (higher quintile of the deprivation index) were more likely to die at home or in a hospice than those from more deprived areas (lower quintile of the deprivation index; PRs 1.02–1.12). The analysis is limited by a lack of data on individual patients' preferences for PoD or a clinical indication of the most appropriate PoD.
More efforts are needed to reduce hospital deaths. Health care facilities should be improved and enhanced to support the increased home and hospice deaths. People who are single, widowed, or divorced should be a focus for end-of-life care improvement, along with known at risk groups such as haematological cancer, lung cancer, older age, and deprivation.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Death is the only certain event in our lives. Consequently, end-of-life care is an issue that is relevant to everyone, and everyone hopes for a “good death” (a death that is free from avoidable distress and suffering) for themselves and for their loved ones. Many factors contribute to a good death, including the place of death. When asked, most people say they would rather die at home or in a hospice (a care facility that gives supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and that focuses on comfort and quality of life rather than on cure) than in a hospital. Importantly, patients who die at home or in a hospice often have a better quality of life than those who die in hospital, and caring for terminally ill patients in the community is less expensive than caring for them in hospital.
Why Was This Study Done?
Many countries have introduced end-of-life care policies that are designed to enable more people to die at home or in hospices. England, for example, implemented its National End of Life Care Programme in 2004. However, to improve end-of-life care services and to enable more people to die in their preferred place, we need to understand how the patterns of place of death and the factors that affect the place of death are changing over time. In this population-based study, the researchers examine the changing pattern of place of death of people with cancer and the factors associated with place of death in England between 1993 and 2010. Cancer is a leading cause of death globally and is responsible for 8 million deaths annually. Deaths from cancer still occur most commonly in hospitals, which are the least preferred place of death for people with cancer; home and hospices are the first and second preferred places of death, respectively, for such people.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used death registration data collected by the Office of National Statistics to identify all the adult cancer deaths in England between 1993 and 2010 (2.28 million deaths) and to determine where these deaths occurred, time trends in place of death, and the factors associated with place of death. Hospital was the commonest place of death throughout the study period—48% of cancer deaths occurred in hospital, 24.5% at home, and 16.4% in hospices. The proportion of home deaths increased after 2005 whereas the proportion of hospital deaths declined. The proportion of deaths in hospices also increased over the study period. The most important factor associated with place of death was cancer site. For example, patients who died from a blood (hematological) cancer were more likely to die in hospital than patients with colorectal cancer throughout the study period although the proportion dying at home or in a hospice increased over time. Being single, widowed, or divorced was associated with a higher likelihood of dying in hospital than being married. Being over 75 was associated with a higher likelihood of dying in hospital than being 25–54 although elderly people were more likely to die at home or in a hospice after 2006 than in earlier periods.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the hospital is still the commonest place of death for patients with cancer in England. However, the increase in home and hospice deaths since 2005 suggests that the National End of Life Care Programme has enabled more people to die at their preferred place of death. These findings identify cancer site, marital status, and age as the three most important factors associated with place of death for patients with cancer. Because the study is a large-scale, population-based study, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other high-income settings. However, because the study did not include data on individual patient preferences for place of death, these findings should be applied with care to individual patients. Importantly, these findings indicate that more needs to be done to support people with cancer (and other terminal illnesses) who wish to die at home or in a hospice. Moreover, they identify groups of people—single, widowed or divorced individuals, older people, and people with specific types of cancer—who need extra help to ensure that they are able to choose where they die.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Cicely Saunders International, a not-for-profit organization, promotes research to improve the care and treatment of all patients with terminal illnesses at home, in hospices and in hospital; its website includes information on end-of-life care and on Cicely Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement in England
This study is part of GUIDE_Care, a project initiated by the Cicely Saunders Institute to investigate patterns in place of death and the factors that affect these patterns
Information on the National End of Life Care Programme is available
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including videos of personal experiences) on end-of-life issues for carers, information on end-of-life care for patients with cancer, and an end-of-life care guide for people approaching the end of their life
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on end-of-life care for people who have cancer and provides information on hospice care and home care for patients with cancer (in English and Spanish)
The not-for-profit organization HealthTalkOnline provides personal stories about living with dying
The NHS National End of Life Intelligence Network (NEoLCIN) provides information on broad issues about end-of-life care
The South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) aims to improve the health of the population through producing evidence to inform decision making on health issues at local, regional, and national levels. SWPHO also produces specific end-of-life care resources (e.g., specialised reports, end-of-life care profiles) and disseminates it via the NEoLCIN website
PMCID: PMC3608543  PMID: 23555201
4.  Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
To assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling seniors.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Urinary incontinence defined as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine” was identified as 1 of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. Urinary incontinence is a health problem that affects a substantial proportion of Ontario’s community-dwelling seniors (and indirectly affects caregivers), impacting their health, functioning, well-being and quality of life. Based on Canadian studies, prevalence estimates range from 9% to 30% for senior men and nearly double from 19% to 55% for senior women. The direct and indirect costs associated with UI are substantial. It is estimated that the total annual costs in Canada are $1.5 billion (Cdn), and that each year a senior living at home will spend $1,000 to $1,500 on incontinence supplies.
Interventions to treat and manage UI can be classified into broad categories which include lifestyle modification, behavioural techniques, medications, devices (e.g., continence pessaries), surgical interventions and adjunctive measures (e.g., absorbent products).
The focus of this review is behavioural interventions, since they are commonly the first line of treatment considered in seniors given that they are the least invasive options with no reported side effects, do not limit future treatment options, and can be applied in combination with other therapies. In addition, many seniors would not be ideal candidates for other types of interventions involving more risk, such as surgical measures.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Description of Technology/Therapy
Behavioural interventions can be divided into 2 categories according to the target population: caregiver-dependent techniques and patient-directed techniques. Caregiver-dependent techniques (also known as toileting assistance) are targeted at medically complex, frail individuals living at home with the assistance of a caregiver, who tends to be a family member. These seniors may also have cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits. A health care professional trains the senior’s caregiver to deliver an intervention such as prompted voiding, habit retraining, or timed voiding. The health care professional who trains the caregiver is commonly a nurse or a nurse with advanced training in the management of UI, such as a nurse continence advisor (NCA) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The second category of behavioural interventions consists of patient-directed techniques targeted towards mobile, motivated seniors. Seniors in this population are cognitively able, free from any major physical deficits, and motivated to regain and/or improve their continence. A nurse or a nurse with advanced training in UI management, such as an NCA or CNS, delivers the patient-directed techniques. These are often provided as multicomponent interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), education on bladder control strategies, and self-monitoring. Pelvic floor muscle training, defined as a program of repeated pelvic floor muscle contractions taught and supervised by a health care professional, may be employed as part of a multicomponent intervention or in isolation.
Education is a large component of both caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions, and patient and/or caregiver involvement as well as continued practice strongly affect the success of treatment. Incontinence products, which include a large variety of pads and devices for effective containment of urine, may be used in conjunction with behavioural techniques at any point in the patient’s management.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions for the treatment of UI in community-dwelling seniors (see Appendix 1).
Research Questions
Are caregiver-dependent behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in medically complex, frail community-dwelling seniors with/without cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits?
Are patient-directed behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in mobile, motivated community-dwelling seniors?
Are behavioural interventions delivered by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting effective in improving incontinence outcomes in community-dwelling seniors?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of the analysis.
The available evidence was limited by considerable variation in study populations and in the type and severity of UI for studies examining both caregiver-directed and patient-directed interventions. The UI literature frequently is limited to reporting subjective outcome measures such as patient observations and symptoms. The primary outcome of interest, admission to a LTC home, was not reported in the UI literature. The number of eligible studies was low, and there were limited data on long-term follow-up.
Summary of Evidence on Behavioural Interventions for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors
Prompted voiding
Habit retraining
Timed voiding
Bladder training
PFMT (with or without biofeedback)
Bladder control strategies
CI refers to confidence interval; CNS, clinical nurse specialist; NCA, nurse continence advisor; PFMT, pelvic floor muscle training; RCT, randomized controlled trial; WMD, weighted mean difference; UI, urinary incontinence.
Economic Analysis
A budget impact analysis was conducted to forecast costs for caregiver-dependent and patient-directed multicomponent behavioural techniques delivered by NCAs, and PFMT alone delivered by physiotherapists. All costs are reported in 2008 Canadian dollars. Based on epidemiological data, published medical literature and clinical expert opinion, the annual cost of caregiver-dependent behavioural techniques was estimated to be $9.2 M, while the annual costs of patient-directed behavioural techniques delivered by either an NCA or physiotherapist were estimated to be $25.5 M and $36.1 M, respectively. Estimates will vary if the underlying assumptions are changed.
Currently, the province of Ontario absorbs the cost of NCAs (available through the 42 Community Care Access Centres across the province) in the home setting. The 2007 Incontinence Care in the Community Report estimated that the total cost being absorbed by the public system of providing continence care in the home is $19.5 M in Ontario. This cost estimate included resources such as personnel, communication with physicians, record keeping and product costs. Clinic costs were not included in this estimation because currently these come out of the global budget of the respective hospital and very few continence clinics actually exist in the province. The budget impact analysis factored in a cost for the clinic setting, assuming that the public system would absorb the cost with this new model of community care.
Considerations for Ontario Health System
An expert panel on aging in the community met on 3 occasions from January to May 2008, and in part, discussed treatment of UI in seniors in Ontario with a focus on caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions. In particular, the panel discussed how treatment for UI is made available to seniors in Ontario and who provides the service. Some of the major themes arising from the discussions included:
Services/interventions that currently exist in Ontario offering behavioural interventions to treat UI are not consistent. There is a lack of consistency in how seniors access services for treatment of UI, who manages patients and what treatment patients receive.
Help-seeking behaviours are important to consider when designing optimal service delivery methods.
There is considerable social stigma associated with UI and therefore there is a need for public education and an awareness campaign.
The cost of incontinent supplies and the availability of NCAs were highlighted.
There is moderate-quality evidence that the following interventions are effective in improving UI in mobile motivated seniors:
Multicomponent behavioural interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, PFMT (with or without biofeedback), education on bladder control strategies and self-monitoring techniques.
Pelvic floor muscle training alone.
There is moderate quality evidence that when behavioural interventions are led by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting, they are effective in improving UI in seniors.
There is limited low-quality evidence that prompted voiding may be effective in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers.
There is insufficient evidence for the following interventions in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers:
habit retraining, and
timed voiding.
PMCID: PMC3377527  PMID: 23074508
5.  Pilot trial of Stop Delirium! (PiTStop) - a complex intervention to prevent delirium in care homes for older people: study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:47.
Delirium (or acute confusion) is a serious illness common in older people, in which a person’s thinking and perceptions may be affected. Reducing delirium is important because of the considerable distress it causes, and the poor outcomes associated with it, such as increased admissions to hospital, falls, mortality and costs to the National Health Service (NHS). Preventing delirium is possible using multicomponent interventions; successful interventions in hospitals have reduced it by one-third. However, there is little research to guide practice in care homes, where it is common because of the clustering of known risk factors (older age, frailty, and dementia). In previous work we developed a multicomponent intervention to prevent delirium in care homes, called Stop Delirium! The intervention was based upon evidence from the research literature relating to the prevention of delirium and on strategies to change professional practice. Before starting a large costly trial of Stop Delirium!, this pilot study will test and help improve the design and feasibility of the trial protocol.
We plan to conduct a cluster randomised pilot trial in 14 care homes (independent residential and nursing). Following recruitment of residents (over 60 years, consenting or with consultee agreement, able to communicate in English, and not in palliative care) participating homes will be randomised, stratified by size of home and proportion of residents with dementia. Stop Delirium! will be delivered to intervention homes over 16 months, with controls receiving usual care. The primary outcome measure will be the presence of delirium on any day during a one-month post-intervention period.
We will collect data to determine 1) recruitment and attrition rates, 2) feasibility of various outcomes measurements, and 3) feasibility of capturing health resource use (resident diaries and by examining health records). We will estimate the between-cluster variation for the primary outcome, delirium occurrence.
This pilot study will refine methods for the definitive trial. The lessons learnt will also contribute to implementing National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) delirium guidelines, which recommend multicomponent interventions for delirium prevention.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3923732  PMID: 24495514
Pilot; Feasibility; RCT; Complex intervention; Older people; Delirium; Care home
6.  First Diagnosis and Management of Incontinence in Older People with and without Dementia in Primary Care: A Cohort Study Using The Health Improvement Network Primary Care Database 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001505.
Robert Grant and colleagues used the British THIN primary care database to determine rates of first diagnosis of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia compared with those without dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence in those with and without dementia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Dementia is one of the most disabling and burdensome diseases. Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing, adds to carer burden, and influences decisions to relocate people to care homes. Successful and safe management of incontinence in people with dementia presents additional challenges. The aim of this study was to investigate the rates of first diagnosis in primary care of urinary and faecal incontinence among people aged 60–89 with dementia, and the use of medication or indwelling catheters for urinary incontinence.
Methods and Findings
We extracted data on 54,816 people aged 60–89 with dementia and an age-gender stratified sample of 205,795 people without dementia from 2001 to 2010 from The Health Improvement Network (THIN), a United Kingdom primary care database. THIN includes data on patients and primary care consultations but does not identify care home residents. Rate ratios were adjusted for age, sex, and co-morbidity using multilevel Poisson regression.
The rates of first diagnosis per 1,000 person-years at risk (95% confidence interval) for urinary incontinence in the dementia cohort, among men and women, respectively, were 42.3 (40.9–43.8) and 33.5 (32.6–34.5). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 19.8 (19.4–20.3) and 18.6 (18.2–18.9). The rates of first diagnosis for faecal incontinence in the dementia cohort were 11.1 (10.4–11.9) and 10.1 (9.6–10.6). In the non-dementia cohort, the rates were 3.1 (2.9–3.3) and 3.6 (3.5–3.8).
The adjusted rate ratio for first diagnosis of urinary incontinence was 3.2 (2.7–3.7) in men and 2.7 (2.3–3.2) in women, and for faecal incontinence was 6.0 (5.1–7.0) in men and 4.5 (3.8–5.2) in women. The adjusted rate ratio for pharmacological treatment of urinary incontinence was 2.2 (1.4–3.7) for both genders, and for indwelling urinary catheters was 1.6 (1.3–1.9) in men and 2.3 (1.9–2.8) in women.
Compared with those without a dementia diagnosis, those with a dementia diagnosis have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of faecal incontinence, in UK primary care. The clinical management of urinary incontinence in people with dementia with medication and particularly the increased use of catheters is concerning and requires further investigation.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Globally, more than 35 million people have dementia, brain disorders that are characterized by an irreversible decline in cognitive functions such as language and memory. Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia mainly affect older people and, because people are living longer than ever, experts estimate that by 2050 more than 115 million people will have dementia. The earliest sign of dementia is usually increasing forgetfulness but, as the disease progresses, people gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities such as dressing, they may become anxious or aggressive, and they may lose control of their bladder (urinary incontinence), bowels (bowel or fecal incontinence), and other physical functions. As a result, people with dementia require increasing amounts of care as the disease progresses. Relatives and other unpaid carers provide much of this care—two-thirds of people with dementia are cared for at home. However, many people with dementia end their days in a care or nursing home.
Why Was This Study Done?
Incontinence in people with dementia is distressing for the person with dementia and for their carers and often influences decisions to move individuals into care homes. However, little is known about the diagnosis and treatment of urinary and/or fecal incontinence among people with dementia living at home. This information is needed to help policymakers commission the services required for this section of society and insurers recognize the needs such patients have, as well as helping to raise clinicians' awareness of the issue. In this cohort study (an investigation that compares outcomes in groups of people with different characteristics), the researchers use data routinely collected from general practices (primary care) in the UK to determine the rate of first diagnosis of urinary and fecal incontinence in elderly patients with and without dementia and to find out whether a diagnosis of dementia affects the rate of use of drugs or of indwelling urinary catheters (tubes inserted into the bladder to drain urine from the body) for the treatment of urinary incontinence.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data collected between 2001 and 2010 on incontinence for nearly 55,000 people aged 60–89 with a diagnosis of dementia (the dementia cohort) and for more than 200,000 individuals without a diagnosis of dementia (the non-dementia cohort) from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) primary care database, which includes anonymized consultation records from nearly 500 UK general practices. In the dementia cohort, the rates of first diagnosis of urinary incontinence were 42.3 and 33.5 per 1,000 person-years at risk among men and women, respectively. In the non-dementia cohort, the corresponding rates were 19.8 and 18.6. The rates of first diagnosis of fecal incontinence were 11.1 and 10.1 in the dementia cohort, and 3.1 and 3.6 in the non-dementia cohort among men and women, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex and other diseases, the adjusted rate ratio for the first diagnosis of urinary incontinence in people with dementia compared to people without dementia was 3.2 in men and 2.7 in women; for fecal incontinence, it was 6.0 in men and 4.5 in women; the adjusted rate ratio was 2.2 for both men and women for drug treatment of urinary incontinence and 1.6 in men and 2.3 in women for use of indwelling urinary catheters.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in primary care in the UK, dementia is associated with a three-fold higher rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence and a greater than four-fold higher rate of diagnosis of fecal incontinence. Moreover, the authors suggest that some aspects of clinical management of urinary continence vary between people with and without dementia. In particular, the use of indwelling urinary catheters appears to be more common among people with dementia than among people without dementia, increasing the risk of infection. Thus, health care practitioners providing care for people with dementia may be prioritizing ease of management over risk avoidance, a possibility that requires further investigation. Although the accuracy of these findings is limited by certain aspects of the study design (for example, the THIN database does not identify which patients are living in care homes), they nevertheless suggest that policymakers and insurers involved in planning and providing services for people with dementia living at home need to provide high levels of help with incontinence, including the provision of advice and support for carers.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Society provides information for patients and carers about dementia, including information on coping with incontinence and personal stories about living with dementia
The US not-for-profit organization Alzheimers Association also provides information for patients and carers about dementia and about incontinence, and personal stories about dementia
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about dementia, urinary incontinence, and bowel incontinence
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about dementia, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (in English and Spanish)
The International Continence Society and the International Consultation on Urological Diseases provide independent advice on products to manage incontinence
More information about the THIN database is available
PMCID: PMC3754889  PMID: 24015113
7.  Place and Cause of Death in Centenarians: A Population-Based Observational Study in England, 2001 to 2010 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001653.
Catherine J. Evans and colleagues studied how many and where centenarians in England die, their causes of death, and how these measures have changed from 2001 to 2010.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Centenarians are a rapidly growing demographic group worldwide, yet their health and social care needs are seldom considered. This study aims to examine trends in place of death and associations for centenarians in England over 10 years to consider policy implications of extreme longevity.
Methods and Findings
This is a population-based observational study using death registration data linked with area-level indices of multiple deprivations for people aged ≥100 years who died 2001 to 2010 in England, compared with those dying at ages 80-99. We used linear regression to examine the time trends in number of deaths and place of death, and Poisson regression to evaluate factors associated with centenarians’ place of death. The cohort totalled 35,867 people with a median age at death of 101 years (range: 100–115 years). Centenarian deaths increased 56% (95% CI 53.8%–57.4%) in 10 years. Most died in a care home with (26.7%, 95% CI 26.3%–27.2%) or without nursing (34.5%, 95% CI 34.0%–35.0%) or in hospital (27.2%, 95% CI 26.7%–27.6%). The proportion of deaths in nursing homes decreased over 10 years (−0.36% annually, 95% CI −0.63% to −0.09%, p = 0.014), while hospital deaths changed little (0.25% annually, 95% CI −0.06% to 0.57%, p = 0.09). Dying with frailty was common with “old age” stated in 75.6% of death certifications. Centenarians were more likely to die of pneumonia (e.g., 17.7% [95% CI 17.3%–18.1%] versus 6.0% [5.9%–6.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) and old age/frailty (28.1% [27.6%–28.5%] versus 0.9% [0.9%–0.9%] for those aged 80–84 years) and less likely to die of cancer (4.4% [4.2%–4.6%] versus 24.5% [24.6%–25.4%] for those aged 80–84 years) and ischemic heart disease (8.6% [8.3%–8.9%] versus 19.0% [18.9%–19.0%] for those aged 80–84 years) than were younger elderly patients. More care home beds available per 1,000 population were associated with fewer deaths in hospital (PR 0.98, 95% CI 0.98–0.99, p<0.001).
Centenarians are more likely to have causes of death certified as pneumonia and frailty and less likely to have causes of death of cancer or ischemic heart disease, compared with younger elderly patients. To reduce reliance on hospital care at the end of life requires recognition of centenarians’ increased likelihood to “acute” decline, notably from pneumonia, and wider provision of anticipatory care to enable people to remain in their usual residence, and increasing care home bed capacity.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
People who live to be more than 100 years old—centenarians—are congratulated and honored in many countries. In the UK, for example, the Queen sends a personal greeting to individuals on their 100th birthday. The number of UK residents who reach this notable milestone is increasing steadily, roughly doubling every 10 years. The latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures indicate that 13,350 centenarians were living in the UK in 2012 (20 centenarians per 100,000 people in the population) compared to only 7,740 in 2002. If current trends continue, by 2066 there may be more than half a million centenarians living in the UK. And similar increases in the numbers of centenarians are being seen in many other countries. The exact number of centenarians living worldwide is uncertain but is thought to be around 317,000 and is projected to rise to about 18 million by the end of this century.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditional blessings often include the wish that the blessing’s recipient lives to be at least 100 years old. However, extreme longevity is associated with increasing frailty—declining physical function, increasing disability, and increasing vulnerability to a poor clinical outcome following, for example, an infection. Consequently, many centenarians require 24-hour per day care in a nursing home or a residential care home. Moreover, although elderly people, including centenarians, generally prefer to die in a home environment rather than a clinical environment, many centenarians end up dying in a hospital. To ensure that centenarians get their preferred end-of-life care, policy makers and clinicians need to know as much as possible about the health and social needs of this specific and unique group of elderly people. In this population-based observational study, the researchers examine trends in the place of death and factors associated with the place of death among centenarians in England over a 10-year period.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted information about the place and cause of death of centenarians in England between 2001 and 2010 from the ONS death registration database, linked these data with area level information on deprivation and care-home bed capacity, and analyzed the data statistically. Over the 10-year study period, 35,867 centenarians (mainly women, average age 101 years) died in England. The annual number of centenarian deaths increased from 2,823 in 2001 to 4,393 in 2010. Overall, three-quarters of centenarian death certificates stated “old age” as the cause of death. About a quarter of centenarians died in the hospital, a quarter died in a nursing home, and a third died in a care home without nursing; only one in ten centenarians died at home. The proportion of deaths in a nursing home increased slightly over the study period but there was little change in the number of hospital deaths. Compared with younger age groups (80–84 year olds), centenarians were more likely to die from pneumonia and “old age” and less likely to die from cancer and heart disease. Among centenarians, dying in the hospital was more likely to be reported to be associated with pneumonia or heart disease than with dementia; death in the hospital was also associated with having four or more contributing causes of death and with living in a deprived area. Finally, living in an area with a higher care-home bed capacity was associated with a lower risk of dying in the hospital.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that many centenarians have outlived death from the chronic diseases that are the common causes of death among younger groups of elderly people and that dying in the hospital is often associated with pneumonia. Overall, these findings suggest that centenarians are a group of people living with a risk of death from increasing frailty that is exacerbated by acute lung infection. The accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by the quality of UK death certification data. Although this is generally high, the strength of some of the reported associations may be affected, for example, by the tendency of clinicians to record the cause of death in the very elderly as “old age” to provide some comfort to surviving relatives. Importantly, however, these findings suggest that care-home capacity and the provision of anticipatory care should be increased in England (and possibly in other countries) to ensure that more of the growing number of centenarians can end their long lives outside hospital.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute on Aging provides information about healthy aging, including information on longevity (in English and Spanish)
The National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, England is a government organization that gathers data on care provided to adults approaching the end of life to improve service quality and productivity
The Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance promotes universal access to affordable palliative care through the support of regional and national palliative care organizations
The non-for-profit organization AgeUK provides information about all aspects of aging
Wikipedia has a page on centenarians (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The International Longevity Centre-UK is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to addressing issues of longevity, ageing and population; its “Living Beyond 100” report examines the research base on centenarians and calls for policy to reflect the ongoing UK increase in extreme longevity
This study is part of GUIDE_Care, a project initiated by the Cicely Saunders Institute to investigate patterns in place of death and the factors that affect these patterns
PMCID: PMC4043499  PMID: 24892645
8.  Effect of a Nutrition Supplement and Physical Activity Program on Pneumonia and Walking Capacity in Chilean Older People: A Factorial Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001023.
Alan Dangour and colleagues report results from the CENEX (Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people) trial, which evaluates a nutritional and exercise program aiming to prevent pneumonia and physical decline in Chilean people.
Ageing is associated with increased risk of poor health and functional decline. Uncertainties about the health-related benefits of nutrition and physical activity for older people have precluded their widespread implementation. We investigated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a national nutritional supplementation program and/or a physical activity intervention among older people in Chile.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster randomized factorial trial among low to middle socioeconomic status adults aged 65–67.9 years living in Santiago, Chile. We randomized 28 clusters (health centers) into the study and recruited 2,799 individuals in 2005 (∼100 per cluster). The interventions were a daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions, or neither, for 24 months. The primary outcomes, assessed blind to allocation, were incidence of pneumonia over 24 months, and physical function assessed by walking capacity 24 months after enrolment. Adherence was good for the nutritional supplement (∼75%), and moderate for the physical activity intervention (∼43%). Over 24 months the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control clusters (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years respectively; risk ratio = 1.00; 95% confidence interval 0.61–1.63; p = 0.99). In intention-to-treat analysis, after 24 months there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters; 95% confidence interval 13.9–53.8; p = 0.001). The overall cost of the physical activity intervention over 24 months was US$164/participant; equivalent to US$4.84/extra meter walked. The number of falls and fractures was balanced across physical activity intervention arms and no serious adverse events were reported for either intervention.
Chile's nutritional supplementation program for older people is not effective in reducing the incidence of pneumonia. This trial suggests that the provision of locally accessible physical activity classes in a transition economy population can be a cost-effective means of enhancing physical function in later life.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 48153354
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
By 2050, about a quarter of the world's population will be aged 60 years or over, with Asia and Latin America experiencing the most dramatic increases in the proportion of older people. For example, in Chile, which has recently undergone rapid demographic transition, the proportion of the population aged 60 years or over has increased from 8% to 12% over the past 25 years.
Current global policy initiatives that promote healthy ageing include an emphasis on adequate nutrient intakes, as longitudinal studies (conducted in high-income countries) suggest that achieving nutritional sufficiency and maintaining moderate levels of physical activity both decrease risk of mortality by preserving immune function and lean body mass and so reduce the numerous risk factors for disability and chronic disease in later life. Such interventions may also decrease the risk of infection, particularly pneumonia, a common cause of death in older people. However, older people in low- and middle-income countries frequently have diets with insufficient calories (energy) and/or micronutrients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, there is no high-quality evidence to support the benefits of improved nutrition and increased physical activity levels from low-income or transition economies, where the ongoing demographic trends suggest that the needs are greatest. National policies aimed at preserving health and function in older people with interventions such as cash-transfers and provision of “food baskets” are often used in Latin American countries, such as Chile, but are rarely formally evaluated. Therefore, the purpose of this study (the Cost-effectiveness Evaluation of a Nutritional supplement and EXercise program for older people—CENEX) was to evaluate Chile's national nutritional supplementation program and/or physical exercise, to investigate whether this program prevented pneumonia and physical functional decline in older people in Santiago, and also to investigate whether these interventions were cost-effective.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly allocated 28 participating health centers in Santiago, Chile, into one of four arms: (1) nutritional supplementation; (2) nutritional supplementation+physical activity; (3) physical activity alone; (4) control. From May to December 2005, 2,799 eligible adults aged 65–67.9 years and living in low to middle socioeconomic circumstances, who attended each health center, were recruited into the study and received the allocated intervention—daily micronutrient-rich nutritional supplement, or two 1-hour physical activity classes per week, or both interventions or neither—for 24 months. The researchers did not know the allocation arm of each patient and over the course of the study assessed the incidence of pneumonia (viral and bacterial as based on diagnosis at the health center or hospital) and physical function was measured by walking capacity (meters walked in 6 minutes). The researchers used administrative records and interviews with staff and patients to estimate the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Participant retention in the study was 84%, although only three-quarters of patients receiving the nutritional intervention and less than half (43%) of patients in the physical activity intervention arm adhered to their respective programs. Over 24 months, the incidence rate of pneumonia did not differ between intervention and control groups (32.5 versus 32.6 per 1,000 person years, respectively), but at the end of the study period, there was a significant difference in walking capacity between the intervention and control clusters (mean difference 33.8 meters). The number of falls and fractures in the study arms were similar. The overall costs over 24 months were US$91.00 and US$163.70 per participant for the nutritional supplement and physical activity interventions, respectively. The cost of the physical activity intervention per extra meter walked at 24 months was US$4.84.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this trial suggest that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of Chile's national nutritional supplementation program in reducing the incidence of pneumonia for 65.0–67.9 year olds. Therefore, given Chile's high burden of infectious and nutrition-related chronic diseases and the associated high health costs, this program should not be considered as a priority preventive public health intervention. However, the provision of locally available physical activity classes to older people could be of clinical benefit, especially in urban settings such as Santiago, although future challenges include increasing the uptake of, and retention to, such programs.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about the state of health in Chile
Wikipedia also provides information about health and health care in Chile (please note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3079648  PMID: 21526229
9.  Multi-professional clinical medication reviews in care homes for the elderly: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial with cost effectiveness analysis 
Trials  2011;12:218.
Evidence demonstrates that measures are needed to optimise therapy and improve administration of medicines in care homes for older people. The aim of this study is to determine the clinical and cost effectiveness of a novel model of multi-professional medication review.
A cluster randomised controlled trial design, involving thirty care homes. In line with current practice in medication reviews, recruitment and consent will be sought from general practitioners and care homes, rather than individual residents. Care homes will be segmented according to size and resident mix and allocated to the intervention arm (15 homes) or control arm (15 homes) sequentially using minimisation. Intervention homes will receive a multi-professional medication review at baseline and at 6 months, with follow-up at 12 months. Control homes will receive usual care (support they currently receive from the National Health Service), with data collection at baseline and 12 months. The novelty of the intervention is a review of medications by a multi-disciplinary team. Primary outcome measures are number of falls and potentially inappropriate prescribing. Secondary outcome measures include medication costs, health care resource use, hospitalisations and mortality.
The null hypothesis proposes no difference in primary outcomes between intervention and control patients. The primary outcome variable (number of falls) will be analysed using a linear mixed model, with the intervention specified as a fixed effect and care homes included as a random effect. Analyses will be at the level of the care home. The economic evaluation will estimate the cost-effectiveness of the intervention compared to usual care from a National Health Service and personal social services perspective.
The study is not measuring the impact of the intervention on professional working relationships, the medicines culture in care homes or the generic health-related quality of life of residents.
This study will establish the effectiveness of a new model of multi-professional clinical medication reviews in care homes, using novel approaches to recruitment and consent. It is the first study to undertake an examination of direct patient outcomes, together with an economic analysis.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC3205028  PMID: 21974834
10.  CONNECT for quality: protocol of a cluster randomized controlled trial to improve fall prevention in nursing homes 
Quality improvement (QI) programs focused on mastery of content by individual staff members are the current standard to improve resident outcomes in nursing homes. However, complexity science suggests that learning is a social process that occurs within the context of relationships and interactions among individuals. Thus, QI programs will not result in optimal changes in staff behavior unless the context for social learning is present. Accordingly, we developed CONNECT, an intervention to foster systematic use of management practices, which we propose will enhance effectiveness of a nursing home Falls QI program by strengthening the staff-to-staff interactions necessary for clinical problem-solving about complex problems such as falls. The study aims are to compare the impact of the CONNECT intervention, plus a falls reduction QI intervention (CONNECT + FALLS), to the falls reduction QI intervention alone (FALLS), on fall-related process measures, fall rates, and staff interaction measures.
Sixteen nursing homes will be randomized to one of two study arms, CONNECT + FALLS or FALLS alone. Subjects (staff and residents) are clustered within nursing homes because the intervention addresses social processes and thus must be delivered within the social context, rather than to individuals. Nursing homes randomized to CONNECT + FALLS will receive three months of CONNECT first, followed by three months of FALLS. Nursing homes randomized to FALLS alone receive three months of FALLs QI and are offered CONNECT after data collection is completed. Complexity science measures, which reflect staff perceptions of communication, safety climate, and care quality, will be collected from staff at baseline, three months after, and six months after baseline to evaluate immediate and sustained impacts. FALLS measures including quality indicators (process measures) and fall rates will be collected for the six months prior to baseline and the six months after the end of the intervention. Analysis will use a three-level mixed model.
By focusing on improving local interactions, CONNECT is expected to maximize staff's ability to implement content learned in a falls QI program and integrate it into knowledge and action. Our previous pilot work shows that CONNECT is feasible, acceptable and appropriate.
Trial Registration NCT00636675
PMCID: PMC3310735  PMID: 22376375
11.  Whole home exercise intervention for depression in older care home residents (the OPERA study): a process evaluation 
BMC Medicine  2014;12:1.
The ‘Older People’s Exercise intervention in Residential and nursing Accommodation’ (OPERA) cluster randomised trial evaluated the impact of training for care home staff together with twice-weekly, physiotherapist-led exercise classes on depressive symptoms in care home residents, but found no effect. We report a process evaluation exploring potential explanations for the lack of effect.
The OPERA trial included over 1,000 residents in 78 care homes in the UK. We used a mixed methods approach including quantitative data collected from all homes. In eight case study homes, we carried out repeated periods of observation and interviews with residents, care staff and managers. At the end of the intervention, we held focus groups with OPERA research staff. We reported our first findings before the trial outcome was known.
Homes showed large variations in activity at baseline and throughout the trial. Overall attendance rate at the group exercise sessions was low (50%). We considered two issues that might explain the negative outcome: whether the intervention changed the culture of the homes, and whether the residents engaged with the intervention. We found low levels of staff training, few home champions for the intervention and a culture that prioritised protecting residents from harm over encouraging activity. The trial team delivered 3,191 exercise groups but only 36% of participants attended at least 1 group per week and depressed residents attended significantly fewer groups than those who were not depressed. Residents were very frail and therefore most groups only included seated exercises.
The intervention did not change the culture of the homes and, in the case study homes, activity levels did not change outside the exercise groups. Residents did not engage in the exercise groups at a sufficient level, and this was particularly true for those with depressive symptoms at baseline. The physical and mental frailty of care home residents may make it impossible to deliver a sufficiently intense exercise intervention to impact on depressive symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3882778  PMID: 24386900
Elderly residential care; Process evaluation; Exercise; Depression; Culture change; Cluster randomised controlled trial
12.  Nutritional treatment of aged individuals with Alzheimer disease living at home with their spouses: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:66.
Nutritional status often deteriorates in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Less is known about whether nutritional care reverses malnutrition and its harmful consequences in AD. The aim of this study is to examine whether individualized nutritional care has an effect on weight, nutrition, health, physical functioning, and quality of life in older individuals with AD and their spouses living at home.
AD patients and their spouses (aged >65 years) living at home (n = 202, 102 AD patients) were recruited using central AD registers in Finland. The couples were randomized into intervention and control groups. A trained nutritionist visited intervention couples 4–8 times at their homes and the couples received tailored nutritional care. When necessary, the couples were given protein and nutrient-enriched complementary drinks. All intervention couples were advised to take vitamin D 20 μg/day. The intervention lasted for one year. The couples of the control group received a written guide on nutrition of older people. Participants in the intervention group were assessed every three months. The primary outcome measure is weight change. Secondary measures are the intake of energy, protein, and other nutrients, nutritional status, cognition, caregiver’s burden, depression, health related quality of life and grip strength.
This study provides data on whether tailored nutritional care is beneficial to home-dwelling AD patients and their spouses.
Trial registration
ACTRN 12611000018910
PMCID: PMC3517368  PMID: 22624652
Nutritional intervention; Malnutrition; Alzheimer disease; RCT; Nutrient intake
13.  Study protocol: cost-effectiveness of multidisciplinary nutritional support for undernutrition in older adults in nursing home and home-care: cluster randomized controlled trial 
Nutrition Journal  2014;13(1):86.
Older adults in nursing home and home-care are a particularly high-risk population for weight loss or poor nutrition. One negative consequence of undernutrition is increased health care costs. Several potentially modifiable nutritional risk factors increase the likelihood of weight loss or poor nutrition. Hence a structured and multidisciplinary approach, focusing on the nutritional risk factors and involving e.g. dieticians, occupational therapists, and physiotherapist, may be necessary to achieve benefits. Up till now a few studies have been done evaluating the cost-effectiveness of nutritional support among undernourished older adults and none of these have used such a multidisciplinary approach.
An 11 week cluster randomized trial to assess the cost-effectiveness of multidisciplinary nutritional support for undernutrition in older adults in nursing home and home-care, identified by screening with the Eating validation Scheme. Before start of the study there will be performed a train-the-trainer intervention involving educated nutrition coordinators.
In addition to the nutrition coordinator, the participants assigned to the intervention group strategy will receive multidisciplinary nutrition support. Focus will be on treatment of the potentially modifiable nutritional risk factors identified by screening, by involving physiotherapist, registered dietician, and occupational therapist, as relevant and independent of the municipality’s ordinary assessment and referral system.
The primary outcome parameter will be change in quality of life (by means of Euroquol-5D-3L). Secondary outcomes will be: physical performance (chair stand), nutritional status (weight, Body Mass Index and hand-grip strength), oral care, fall incidents, hospital admissions, rehabilitation stay, moving to nursing homes (for participants from home-care), use of social services and mortality.
An economic evaluation will be conducted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the multidisciplinary support.
Furthermore, interviews with nursing home and home-care management, nursing staff and nutrition coordinators in both the control and intervention groups, participants in the intervention group and the involved multidisciplinary team will be performed.
In this study we will evaluate in a randomized controlled trial whether multidisciplinary nutritional support is cost-effective, in undernourished older adults in home-care and nursing home and contribute to important research.
Trial registration 2013 NCT01873456.
PMCID: PMC4153908  PMID: 25163483
Undernutrition; Nursing home; Home-care; Quality of life; Multidisciplinary nutritional support
14.  A randomised controlled trial to prevent hospital readmissions and loss of functional ability in high risk older adults: a study protocol 
Older people have higher rates of hospital admission than the general population and higher rates of readmission due to complications and falls. During hospitalisation, older people experience significant functional decline which impairs their future independence and quality of life. Acute hospital services comprise the largest section of health expenditure in Australia and prevention or delay of disease is known to produce more effective use of services. Current models of discharge planning and follow-up care, however, do not address the need to prevent deconditioning or functional decline. This paper describes the protocol of a randomised controlled trial which aims to evaluate innovative transitional care strategies to reduce unplanned readmissions and improve functional status, independence, and psycho-social well-being of community-based older people at risk of readmission.
The study is a randomised controlled trial. Within 72 hours of hospital admission, a sample of older adults fitting the inclusion/exclusion criteria (aged 65 years and over, admitted with a medical diagnosis, able to walk independently for 3 meters, and at least one risk factor for readmission) are randomised into one of four groups: 1) the usual care control group, 2) the exercise and in-home/telephone follow-up intervention group, 3) the exercise only intervention group, or 4) the in-home/telephone follow-up only intervention group. The usual care control group receive usual discharge planning provided by the health service. In addition to usual care, the exercise and in-home/telephone follow-up intervention group receive an intervention consisting of a tailored exercise program, in-home visit and 24 week telephone follow-up by a gerontic nurse. The exercise only and in-home/telephone follow-up only intervention groups, in addition to usual care receive only the exercise or gerontic nurse components of the intervention respectively. Data collection is undertaken at baseline within 72 hours of hospital admission, 4 weeks following hospital discharge, 12 weeks following hospital discharge, and 24 weeks following hospital discharge. Outcome assessors are blinded to group allocation. Primary outcomes are emergency hospital readmissions and health service use, functional status, psychosocial well-being and cost effectiveness.
The acute hospital sector comprises the largest component of health care system expenditure in developed countries, and older adults are the most frequent consumers. There are few trials to demonstrate effective models of transitional care to prevent emergency readmissions, loss of functional ability and independence in this population following an acute hospital admission. This study aims to address that gap and provide information for future health service planning which meets client needs and lowers the use of acute care services.
Trial Registration No
Australian & New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000202369
PMCID: PMC3224378  PMID: 21861920
Older adults; discharge planning; in-home follow-up; telephone follow-up; exercise; randomised control trial
15.  The longitudinal prevalence of MRSA in care home residents and the effectiveness of improving infection prevention knowledge and practice on colonisation using a stepped wedge study design 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000423.
To determine the prevalence and health outcomes of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonisation in elderly care home residents. To measure the effectiveness of improving infection prevention knowledge and practice on MRSA prevalence.
Care homes for elderly residents in Leeds, UK.
Residents able to give informed consent.
A controlled intervention study, using a stepped wedge design, comprising 65 homes divided into three groups. Baseline MRSA prevalence was determined by screening the nares of residents (n=2492). An intervention based upon staff education and training on hand hygiene was delivered at three different times according to group number. Scores for three assessment methods, an audit of hand hygiene facilities, staff hand hygiene observations and an educational questionnaire, were collected before and after the intervention. After each group of homes received the intervention, all participants were screened for MRSA nasal colonisation. In total, four surveys took place between November 2006 and February 2009.
MRSA prevalence was 20%, 19%, 22% and 21% in each survey, respectively. There was a significant improvement in scores for all three assessment methods post-intervention (p≤0.001). The intervention was associated with a small but significant increase in MRSA prevalence (p=0.023). MRSA colonisation was associated with previous and subsequent MRSA infection but was not significantly associated with subsequent hospitalisation or mortality.
The intervention did not result in a decrease in the prevalence of MRSA colonisation in care home residents. Additional measures will be required to reduce endemic MRSA colonisation in care homes.
Article summary
Article focus
To assess the effectiveness of an educational intervention on the prevalence of MRSA in care homes for the older people.
Key messages
There was a high rate of MRSA colonisation in elderly residents of care homes during the study period.
The intervention improved the infection prevention knowledge and practice of staff working in care homes but did not reduce the prevalence of MRSA colonisation of residents.
MRSA colonisation was associated with previous and subsequent MRSA infection but was not significantly associated with subsequent hospitalisation or mortality.
Additional measures are required to reduce endemic MRSA colonisation in care homes.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is a large prospective study, including 65 homes and 2492 residents. MRSA prevalence was monitored over a 28-month period.
The intervention was plausible, unlikely to be harmful, and the assessments of the intervention were reasonable.
A significant improvement was seen in scores for all three intervention assessment methods; however, the intervention was associated with a small but significant increase in MRSA prevalence.
It was not possible to identify or control for the factors responsible for the increase in MRSA prevalence following the intervention.
PMCID: PMC3278489  PMID: 22240647
16.  Solar Drinking Water Disinfection (SODIS) to Reduce Childhood Diarrhoea in Rural Bolivia: A Cluster-Randomized, Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000125.
Daniel Maeusezahl and colleagues conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Bolivia of solar drinking water disinfection, and find only moderate compliance with the intervention and no evidence of reduction in diarrhea among children.
Solar drinking water disinfection (SODIS) is a low-cost, point-of-use water purification method that has been disseminated globally. Laboratory studies suggest that SODIS is highly efficacious in inactivating waterborne pathogens. Previous field studies provided limited evidence for its effectiveness in reducing diarrhoea.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 22 rural communities in Bolivia to evaluate the effect of SODIS in reducing diarrhoea among children under the age of 5 y. A local nongovernmental organisation conducted a standardised interactive SODIS-promotion campaign in 11 communities targeting households, communities, and primary schools. Mothers completed a daily child health diary for 1 y. Within the intervention arm 225 households (376 children) were trained to expose water-filled polyethyleneteraphtalate bottles to sunlight. Eleven communities (200 households, 349 children) served as a control. We recorded 166,971 person-days of observation during the trial representing 79.9% and 78.9% of the total possible person-days of child observation in intervention and control arms, respectively. Mean compliance with SODIS was 32.1%. The reported incidence rate of gastrointestinal illness in children in the intervention arm was 3.6 compared to 4.3 episodes/year at risk in the control arm. The relative rate of diarrhoea adjusted for intracluster correlation was 0.81 (95% confidence interval 0.59–1.12). The median length of diarrhoea was 3 d in both groups.
Despite an extensive SODIS promotion campaign we found only moderate compliance with the intervention and no strong evidence for a substantive reduction in diarrhoea among children. These results suggest that there is a need for better evidence of how the well-established laboratory efficacy of this home-based water treatment method translates into field effectiveness under various cultural settings and intervention intensities. Further global promotion of SODIS for general use should be undertaken with care until such evidence is available.
Trial Registration NCT00731497
Please see later in the article for Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Thirsty? Well, turn on the tap and have a drink of refreshing, clean, safe water. Unfortunately, more than one billion people around the world don't have this option. Instead of the endless supply of safe drinking water that people living in affluent, developed countries take for granted, more than a third of people living in developing countries only have contaminated water from rivers, lakes, or wells to drink. Because of limited access to safe drinking water, poor sanitation, and poor personal hygiene, 1.8 million people (mainly children under 5 years old) die every year from diarrheal diseases. This death toll could be greatly reduced by lowering the numbers of disease-causing microbes in household drinking water. One promising simple, low-cost, point-of-use water purification method is solar drinking water disinfection (SODIS). In SODIS, recycled transparent plastic drinks bottles containing contaminated water are exposed to full sunlight for 6 hours. During this exposure, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, together with an increase in temperature, inactivates the disease-causing organisms in the water.
Why Was This Study Done?
SODIS has been promoted as an effective method to purify household water since 1999, and about 2 million people now use the approach ( However, although SODIS works well under laboratory conditions, very few studies have investigated its ability to reduce the number of cases of diarrhea occurring in a population over a specific time period (the incidence of diarrhea) in the real world. Before any more resources are used to promote SODIS—its effective implementation requires intensive and on-going education—it is important to be sure that SODIS really does reduce the burden of diarrhea in communities in the developing world. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a cluster-randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive an intervention or to act as controls) in 22 rural communities in Bolivia to evaluate the ability of SODIS to reduce diarrhea in children under 5 years old.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their trial, the researchers enrolled 22 rural Bolivian communities that included at least 30 children under 5 years old and that relied on drinking water resources that were contaminated with disease-causing organisms. They randomly assigned 11 communities (225 households, 376 children) to receive the intervention—a standardized, interactive SODIS promotion campaign conducted by Project Concern International (a nongovernmental organization)—and 11 communities (200 households, 349 children) to act as controls. Households in the intervention arm were trained to expose water-filled plastic bottles for at least 6 hours to sunlight using demonstrations, role play, and videos. Mothers in both arms of the trial completed a daily child health diary for a year. Almost 80% of the households self-reported using SODIS at the beginning and end of the study. However, community-based field workers estimated that only 32.1% of households on average used SODIS. Data collected in the child health diaries, which were completed on more than three-quarters of days in both arms of the trial, indicated that the children in the intervention arm had 3.6 episodes of diarrhea per year whereas the children in the control arm had 4.3 episodes of diarrhea per year. The difference in episode numbers was not statistically significant, however. That is, the small difference in the incidence of diarrhea between the arms of the trial may have occurred by chance and may not be related to the intervention.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, despite an intensive campaign to promote SODIS, less than a third of households in the trial routinely treated their water in the recommended manner. Moreover, these findings fail to provide strong evidence of a marked reduction of the incidence of diarrhea among children following implementation of SODIS although some aspects of the study design may have resulted in the efficacy of SODIS being underestimated. Thus, until additional studies of the effectiveness of SODIS in various real world settings have been completed, it may be unwise to extend the global promotion of SODIS for general use any further.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The PLoS Medicine editors wrote an editorial arguing that water should be a human right
The World Health Organization provides information about household water treatment and safe storage and about the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene for health (in several languages)
The SODIS Reference Center provides detailed information about solar water disinfection (in several languages)
The SODIS Foundation in Bolivia provides practical information for the roll-out of solar water disinfection in Latin America (in Spanish and English)
Project Concern International provides information about its campaign to promote SODIS in Bolivia (in Spanish)
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is a global multi-stakeholder partnership organization with a goal of advocating to achieve sustainable water supply and sanitation for all people
PMCID: PMC2719054  PMID: 19688036
17.  Effectiveness of a primary care based multifactorial intervention to improve frailty parameters in the elderly: a randomised clinical trial: rationale and study design 
BMC Geriatrics  2014;14(1):125.
Frailty is a highly prevalent condition in old age leading to vulnerability and greater risk of adverse health outcomes and disability. Detecting and tackling frailty at an early stage can prevent disability. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a multifactorial intervention program to modify frailty parameters, muscle strength, and physical and cognitive performance in people aged 65 years or more. It also assesses changes from baseline in falls, hospitalizations, nutritional risk, disability, institutionalization, and home-care.
The current study is a randomised single-blind, parallel-group clinical trial, with a one and a half year follow-up, conducted in eight Primary Health Care Centres located in the city of Barcelona. Inclusion criteria are to be aged 65 years or older with positive frailty screening, timed get-up-and-go test between 10 to 30 seconds, and Cognition Mini-Exam (MEC-35) of Lobo greater than or equal to 18. A total of 352 patients have been equally divided into two groups: intervention and control. Sample size calculated to detect a 0.5 unit difference in the Short Physical Performance Battery (Common SD: 1.42, 20% lost to follow-up). In the intervention group three different actions on frailty dimensions: rehabilitative therapy plus intake of hyperproteic nutritional shakes, memory workshop, and medication review are applied to sets of 16 patients. Participants in both intervention and control groups receive recommendations on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and home risks.
Evaluations are blinded and conducted at 0, 3, and 18 months. Intention to treat analyses will be performed. Multivariate analysis will be carried out to assess time changes of dependent variables.
It is expected that this study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary intervention on delaying the progression from frailty to disability in the elderly. It will help improve the individual’s quality of life and also reduce the rates of falls, hospital admissions, and institutionalizations, thus making the health care system more efficient. This preventive intervention can be adapted to diverse settings and be routinely included in Primary Care Centres as a Preventive Health Programme.
Trial registration PRS:NCT01969526. Date of registration: 10/21/2013.
PMCID: PMC4258273  PMID: 25427568
Frail elderly; Aged; Randomised controlled trial; Exercise; Disability; Primary health care; Treatment outcome
18.  Integration of balance and strength training into daily life activity to reduce rate of falls in older people (the LiFE study): randomised parallel trial 
Objectives To determine whether a lifestyle integrated approach to balance and strength training is effective in reducing the rate of falls in older, high risk people living at home.
Design Three arm, randomised parallel trial; assessments at baseline and after six and 12 months. Randomisation done by computer generated random blocks, stratified by sex and fall history and concealed by an independent secure website.
Setting Residents in metropolitan Sydney, Australia.
Participants Participants aged 70 years or older who had two or more falls or one injurious fall in past 12 months, recruited from Veteran’s Affairs databases and general practice databases. Exclusion criteria were moderate to severe cognitive problems, inability to ambulate independently, neurological conditions that severely influenced gait and mobility, resident in a nursing home or hostel, or any unstable or terminal illness that would affect ability to do exercises.
Interventions Three home based interventions: Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) approach (n=107; taught principles of balance and strength training and integrated selected activities into everyday routines), structured programme (n=105; exercises for balance and lower limb strength, done three times a week), sham control programme (n=105; gentle exercise). LiFE and structured groups received five sessions with two booster visits and two phone calls; controls received three home visits and six phone calls. Assessments made at baseline and after six and 12 months.
Main outcome measures Primary measure: rate of falls over 12 months, collected by self report. Secondary measures: static and dynamic balance; ankle, knee and hip strength; balance self efficacy; daily living activities; participation; habitual physical activity; quality of life; energy expenditure; body mass index; and fat free mass.
Results After 12 months’ follow-up, we recorded 172, 193, and 224 falls in the LiFE, structured exercise, and control groups, respectively. The overall incidence of falls in the LiFE programme was 1.66 per person years, compared with 1.90 in the structured programme and 2.28 in the control group. We saw a significant reduction of 31% in the rate of falls for the LiFE programme compared with controls (incidence rate ratio 0.69 (95% confidence interval 0.48 to 0.99)); the corresponding difference between the structured group and controls was non-significant (0.81 (0.56 to 1.17)). Static balance on an eight level hierarchy scale, ankle strength, function, and participation were significantly better in the LiFE group than in controls. LiFE and structured groups had a significant and moderate improvement in dynamic balance, compared with controls.
Conclusions The LiFE programme provides an alternative to traditional exercise to consider for fall prevention. Functional based exercise should be a focus for interventions to protect older, high risk people from falling and to improve and maintain functional capacity.
Trial registration Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry 12606000025538.
PMCID: PMC3413733  PMID: 22872695
19.  Effect of Facilitation of Local Maternal-and-Newborn Stakeholder Groups on Neonatal Mortality: Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001445.
Lars Åke Persson and colleagues conduct a cluster randomised control in northern Vietnam to analyze the effect of the activity of local community-based maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Facilitation of local women's groups may reportedly reduce neonatal mortality. It is not known whether facilitation of groups composed of local health care staff and politicians can improve perinatal outcomes. We hypothesised that facilitation of local stakeholder groups would reduce neonatal mortality (primary outcome) and improve maternal, delivery, and newborn care indicators (secondary outcomes) in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
Methods and Findings
In a cluster-randomized design 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to control. Laywomen facilitated monthly meetings during 3 years in groups composed of health care staff and key persons in the communes. A problem-solving approach was employed. Births and neonatal deaths were monitored, and interviews were performed in households of neonatal deaths and of randomly selected surviving infants. A latent period before effect is expected in this type of intervention, but this timeframe was not pre-specified. Neonatal mortality rate (NMR) from July 2008 to June 2011 was 16.5/1,000 (195 deaths per 11,818 live births) in the intervention communes and 18.4/1,000 (194 per 10,559 live births) in control communes (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.96 [95% CI 0.73–1.25]). There was a significant downward time trend of NMR in intervention communes (p = 0.003) but not in control communes (p = 0.184). No significant difference in NMR was observed during the first two years (July 2008 to June 2010) while the third year (July 2010 to June 2011) had significantly lower NMR in intervention arm: adjusted OR 0.51 (95% CI 0.30–0.89). Women in intervention communes more frequently attended antenatal care (adjusted OR 2.27 [95% CI 1.07–4.8]).
A randomized facilitation intervention with local stakeholder groups composed of primary care staff and local politicians working for three years with a perinatal problem-solving approach resulted in increased attendance to antenatal care and reduced neonatal mortality after a latent period.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN44599712
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Over the past few years, there has been enormous international effort to meet the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds and to reduce the number of maternal deaths by three-quarters, respectively, from the 1990 level by 2015. There has been some encouraging progress and according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, in 2011, just under 7 million children aged under 5 years died, a fall of almost 3 million from a decade ago. However, currently, 41% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years occur around birth and the first 28 days of life (perinatal and neonatal mortality). Simple interventions can substantially reduce neonatal deaths and there have been several international, national, and local efforts to implement effective care packages to help reduce the number of neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order for these interventions to be most effective, it is important that the local community becomes involved. Community mobilization, especially through local women's groups, can empower women to prioritize specific interventions to help improve their own health and that of their baby. An alternative strategy might be to mobilize people who already have responsibility to promote health and welfare in society, such as primary care staff, village health workers, and elected political representatives. However, it is unclear if the activities of such stakeholder groups result in improved neonatal survival. So in this study from northern Vietnam, the researchers analyzed the effect of the activity of local maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2008 and 2011, the researchers conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 90 communes within the Quang Ninh province of northeast of Vietnam: 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to the control. The local women's union facilitated recruitment to the intervention, local stakeholder groups (Maternal and Newborn Health Groups), which comprised primary care staff, village health workers, women's union representatives, and the person with responsibility for health in the commune. The groups' role was to identify and prioritize local perinatal health problems and implement actions to help overcome these problems.
Over the three-year period, the Maternal and Newborn Health Groups in the 44 intervention communes had 1,508 meetings. Every year 15–27 unique problems were identified and addressed 94–151 times. The problem-solving processes resulted in an annual number of 19–27 unique actions that were applied 297–649 times per year. The top priority problems and actions identified by these groups dealt with antenatal care attendance, post-natal visits, nutrition and rest during pregnancy, home deliveries, and breast feeding. Neonatal mortality in the intervention group did not change over the first two years but showed a significant improvement in the third year. The three leading causes of death were prematurity/low birth-weight (36%), intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (30%), and infections (15%). Stillbirth rates were 7.4 per 1,000 births in the intervention arm and 9.0 per 1,000 births in the control arm. There was one maternal death in the intervention communes and four in the control communes and there was a significant improvement in antenatal care attendance in the intervention arm. However, there were no significant differences between the intervention and control groups of other outcomes, including tetanus immunization, delivery preparedness, institutional delivery, temperature control at delivery, early initiation of breastfeeding, or home visit of a midwife during the first week after delivery.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that local stakeholder groups comprised of primary care staff and local politicians using a problem-solving approach may help to reduce the neonatal mortality rate after three years of implementation (although the time period for an expected reduction in neonatal mortality was not specified before the trial started) and may also increase the rate of antenatal care attendance. However, the intervention had no effect on other important outcomes such as the rate of institutional delivery and breast feeding. This study used a novel approach of community-based activity that was implemented into the public sector system at low cost. A further reduction in neonatal deaths around delivery might be achieved by neonatal resuscitation training and home visits to the mother and her baby.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides comprehensive statistics on neonatal mortality
The Healthy Newborn Network has information on community interventions to help reduce neonatal mortality from around the world
PMCID: PMC3653802  PMID: 23690755
20.  Implementing the 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations on resident physician work hours, supervision, and safety 
Long working hours and sleep deprivation have been a facet of physician training in the US since the advent of the modern residency system. However, the scientific evidence linking fatigue with deficits in human performance, accidents and errors in industries from aeronautics to medicine, nuclear power, and transportation has mounted over the last 40 years. This evidence has also spawned regulations to help ensure public safety across safety-sensitive industries, with the notable exception of medicine.
In late 2007, at the behest of the US Congress, the Institute of Medicine embarked on a year-long examination of the scientific evidence linking resident physician sleep deprivation with clinical performance deficits and medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s report, entitled “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety”, published in January 2009, recommended new limits on resident physician work hours and workload, increased supervision, a heightened focus on resident physician safety, training in structured handovers and quality improvement, more rigorous external oversight of work hours and other aspects of residency training, and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to implement the recommended reforms successfully and protect the public and resident physicians themselves from preventable harm.
Given that resident physicians comprise almost a quarter of all physicians who work in hospitals, and that taxpayers, through Medicare and Medicaid, fund graduate medical education, the public has a deep investment in physician training. Patients expect to receive safe, high-quality care in the nation’s teaching hospitals. Because it is their safety that is at issue, their voices should be central in policy decisions affecting patient safety. It is likewise important to integrate the perspectives of resident physicians, policy makers, and other constituencies in designing new policies. However, since its release, discussion of the Institute of Medicine report has been largely confined to the medical education community, led by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
To begin gathering these perspectives and developing a plan to implement safer work hours for resident physicians, a conference entitled “Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety: What will it take to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations?” was held at Harvard Medical School on June 17–18, 2010. This White Paper is a product of a diverse group of 26 representative stakeholders bringing relevant new information and innovative practices to bear on a critical patient safety problem. Given that our conference included experts from across disciplines with diverse perspectives and interests, not every recommendation was endorsed by each invited conference participant. However, every recommendation made here was endorsed by the majority of the group, and many were endorsed unanimously. Conference members participated in the process, reviewed the final product, and provided input before publication. Participants provided their individual perspectives, which do not necessarily represent the formal views of any organization.
In September 2010 the ACGME issued new rules to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Unfortunately, they stop considerably short of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and those endorsed by this conference. In particular, the ACGME only applied the limitation of 16 hours to first-year resident physicans. Thus, it is clear that policymakers, hospital administrators, and residency program directors who wish to implement safer health care systems must go far beyond what the ACGME will require. We hope this White Paper will serve as a guide and provide encouragement for that effort.
Resident physician workload and supervision
By the end of training, a resident physician should be able to practice independently. Yet much of resident physicians’ time is dominated by tasks with little educational value. The caseload can be so great that inadequate reflective time is left for learning based on clinical experiences. In addition, supervision is often vaguely defined and discontinuous. Medical malpractice data indicate that resident physicians are frequently named in lawsuits, most often for lack of supervision. The recommendations are: The ACGME should adjust resident physicians workload requirements to optimize educational value. Resident physicians as well as faculty should be involved in work redesign that eliminates nonessential and noneducational activity from resident physician dutiesMechanisms should be developed for identifying in real time when a resident physician’s workload is excessive, and processes developed to activate additional providersTeamwork should be actively encouraged in delivery of patient care. Historically, much of medical training has focused on individual knowledge, skills, and responsibility. As health care delivery has become more complex, it will be essential to train resident and attending physicians in effective teamwork that emphasizes collective responsibility for patient care and recognizes the signs, both individual and systemic, of a schedule and working conditions that are too demanding to be safeHospitals should embrace the opportunities that resident physician training redesign offers. Hospitals should recognize and act on the potential benefits of work redesign, eg, increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality of care, and resident physician and attending job satisfactionAttending physicians should supervise all hospital admissions. Resident physicians should directly discuss all admissions with attending physicians. Attending physicians should be both cognizant of and have input into the care patients are to receive upon admission to the hospitalInhouse supervision should be required for all critical care services, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and trauma services. Resident physicians should not be left unsupervised to care for critically ill patients. In settings in which the acuity is high, physicians who have completed residency should provide direct supervision for resident physicians. Supervising physicians should always be physically in the hospital for supervision of resident physicians who care for critically ill patientsThe ACGME should explicitly define “good” supervision by specialty and by year of training. Explicit requirements for intensity and level of training for supervision of specific clinical scenarios should be providedCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should use graduate medical education funding to provide incentives to programs with proven, effective levels of supervision. Although this action would require federal legislation, reimbursement rules would help to ensure that hospitals pay attention to the importance of good supervision and require it from their training programs
Resident physician work hours
Although the IOM “Sleep, supervision and safety” report provides a comprehensive review and discussion of all aspects of graduate medical education training, the report’s focal point is its recommendations regarding the hours that resident physicians are currently required to work. A considerable body of scientific evidence, much of it cited by the Institute of Medicine report, describes deteriorating performance in fatigued humans, as well as specific studies on resident physician fatigue and preventable medical errors.
The question before this conference was what work redesign and cultural changes are needed to reform work hours as recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s evidence-based report? Extensive scientific data demonstrate that shifts exceeding 12–16 hours without sleep are unsafe. Several principles should be followed in efforts to reduce consecutive hours below this level and achieve safer work schedules. The recommendations are: Limit resident physician work hours to 12–16 hour maximum shiftsA minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between shiftsResident physician input into work redesign should be actively solicitedSchedules should be designed that adhere to principles of sleep and circadian science; this includes careful consideration of the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts, and provision of adequate time off after night work, as specified in the IOM reportResident physicians should not be scheduled up to the maximum permissible limits; emergencies frequently occur that require resident physicians to stay longer than their scheduled shifts, and this should be anticipated in scheduling resident physicians’ work shiftsHospitals should anticipate the need for iterative improvement as new schedules are initiated; be prepared to learn from the initial phase-in, and change the plan as neededAs resident physician work hours are redesigned, attending physicians should also be considered; a potential consequence of resident physician work hour reduction and increased supervisory requirements may be an increase in work for attending physicians; this should be carefully monitored, and adjustments to attending physician work schedules made as needed to prevent unsafe work hours or working conditions for this group“Home call” should be brought under the overall limits of working hours; work load and hours should be monitored in each residency program to ensure that resident physicians and fellows on home call are getting sufficient sleepMedicare funding for graduate medical education in each hospital should be linked with adherence to the Institute of Medicine limits on resident physician work hours
Moonlighting by resident physicians
The Institute of Medicine report recommended including external as well as internal moonlighting in working hour limits. The recommendation is: All moonlighting work hours should be included in the ACGME working hour limits and actively monitored. Hospitals should formalize a moonlighting policy and establish systems for actively monitoring resident physician moonlighting
Safety of resident physicians
The “Sleep, supervision and safety” report also addresses fatigue-related harm done to resident physicians themselves. The report focuses on two main sources of physical injury to resident physicians impaired by fatigue, ie, needle-stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens and motor vehicle crashes. Providing safe transportation home for resident physicians is a logistical and financial challenge for hospitals. Educating physicians at all levels on the dangers of fatigue is clearly required to change driving behavior so that safe hospital-funded transport home is used effectively. Fatigue-related injury prevention (including not driving while drowsy) should be taught in medical school and during residency, and reinforced with attending physicians; hospitals and residency programs must be informed that resident physicians’ ability to judge their own level of impairment is impaired when they are sleep deprived; hence, leaving decisions about the capacity to drive to impaired resident physicians is not recommendedHospitals should provide transportation to all resident physicians who report feeling too tired to drive safely; in addition, although consecutive work should not exceed 16 hours, hospitals should provide transportation for all resident physicians who, because of unforeseen reasons or emergencies, work for longer than consecutive 24 hours; transportation under these circumstances should be automatically provided to house staff, and should not rely on self-identification or request
Training in effective handovers and quality improvement
Handover practice for resident physicians, attendings, and other health care providers has long been identified as a weak link in patient safety throughout health care settings. Policies to improve handovers of care must be tailored to fit the appropriate clinical scenario, recognizing that information overload can also be a problem. At the heart of improving handovers is the organizational effort to improve quality, an effort in which resident physicians have typically been insufficiently engaged. The recommendations are: Hospitals should train attending and resident physicians in effective handovers of careHospitals should create uniform processes for handovers that are tailored to meet each clinical setting; all handovers should be done verbally and face-to-face, but should also utilize written toolsWhen possible, hospitals should integrate hand-over tools into their electronic medical records (EMR) systems; these systems should be standardized to the extent possible across residency programs in a hospital, but may be tailored to the needs of specific programs and services; federal government should help subsidize adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals to improve signoutWhen feasible, handovers should be a team effort including nurses, patients, and familiesHospitals should include residents in their quality improvement and patient safety efforts; the ACGME should specify in their core competency requirements that resident physicians work on quality improvement projects; likewise, the Joint Commission should require that resident physicians be included in quality improvement and patient safety programs at teaching hospitals; hospital administrators and residency program directors should create opportunities for resident physicians to become involved in ongoing quality improvement projects and root cause analysis teams; feedback on successful quality improvement interventions should be shared with resident physicians and broadly disseminatedQuality improvement/patient safety concepts should be integral to the medical school curriculum; medical school deans should elevate the topics of patient safety, quality improvement, and teamwork; these concepts should be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum and reinforced throughout residency; mastery of these concepts by medical students should be tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) stepsFederal government should support involvement of resident physicians in quality improvement efforts; initiatives to improve quality by including resident physicians in quality improvement projects should be financially supported by the Department of Health and Human Services
Monitoring and oversight of the ACGME
While the ACGME is a key stakeholder in residency training, external voices are essential to ensure that public interests are heard in the development and monitoring of standards. Consequently, the Institute of Medicine report recommended external oversight and monitoring through the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recommendations are: Make comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal; fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but also for nurses, attending physicians, and other health care workers; the Joint Commission should seek to ensure that all health care workers, not just resident physicians, are working as safely as possibleFederal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, should encourage development of comprehensive fatigue management programs which all health systems would eventually be required to implementMake ACGME compliance with working hours a “ condition of participation” for reimbursement of direct and indirect graduate medical education costs; financial incentives will greatly increase the adoption of and compliance with ACGME standards
Future financial support for implementation
The Institute of Medicine’s report estimates that $1.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) would be needed to implement its recommendations. Twenty-five percent of that amount ($376 million) will be required just to bring hospitals into compliance with the existing 2003 ACGME rules. Downstream savings to the health care system could potentially result from safer care, but these benefits typically do not accrue to hospitals and residency programs, who have been asked historically to bear the burden of residency reform costs. The recommendations are: The Institute of Medicine should convene a panel of stakeholders, including private and public funders of health care and graduate medical education, to lay down the concrete steps necessary to identify and allocate the resources needed to implement the recommendations contained in the IOM “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety” report. Conference participants suggested several approaches to engage public and private support for this initiativeEfforts to find additional funding to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations should focus more broadly on patient safety and health care delivery reform; policy efforts focused narrowly upon resident physician work hours are less likely to succeed than broad patient safety initiatives that include residency redesign as a key componentHospitals should view the Institute of Medicine recommendations as an opportunity to begin resident physician work redesign projects as the core of a business model that embraces safety and ultimately saves resourcesBoth the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take the Institute of Medicine recommendations into consideration when promulgating rules for innovation grantsThe National Health Care Workforce Commission should consider the Institute of Medicine recommendations when analyzing the nation’s physician workforce needs
Recommendations for future research
Conference participants concurred that convening the stakeholders and agreeing on a research agenda was key. Some observed that some sectors within the medical education community have been reluctant to act on the data. Several logical funders for future research were identified. But above all agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the only stakeholder that funds graduate medical education upstream and will reap savings downstream if preventable medical errors are reduced as a result of reform of resident physician work hours.
PMCID: PMC3630963  PMID: 23616719
resident; hospital; working hours; safety
21.  Complementary medicine in nursing homes - results of a mixed methods pilot study 
‘Kneipp Therapy’ (KT) is a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) that includes a combination of hydrotherapy, herbal medicine, mind-body medicine, physical activities, and healthy eating. Since 2007, some nursing homes for older adults in Germany began to integrate CAM in the form of KT in care. The study investigated how KT is used in daily routine care and explored the health status of residents and caregivers involved in KT.
We performed a cross-sectional pilot study with a mixed methods approach that collected both quantitative and qualitative data in four German nursing homes in 2011. Assessments in the quantitative component included the Quality of Life in Dementia (QUALIDEM), the Short Form 12 Health Survey (SF-12), the Barthel-Index for residents and the Work Ability Index (WAI) and SF-12 for caregivers. The qualitative component addressed the residents’ and caregivers’ subjectively experienced changes after integration of KT. It was conceptualized as an ethnographic rapid appraisal by conducting participant observation and semi-structured interviews in two of the four nursing homes.
The quantitative component included 64 residents (53 female, 83.2 ± 8.1 years (mean and SD)) and 29 caregivers (all female, 42.0 ± 11.7 years). Residents were multimorbid (8 ± 3 diagnoses), and activities of daily living were restricted (Barthel-Index 60.6 ± 24.4). The caregivers’ results indicated good work ability (WAI 37.4 ± 5.1), health related quality of life was superior to the German sample (SF-12 physical CSS 49.2 ± 8.0; mental CSS 54.1 ± 6.6). Among both caregivers and residents, 89% considered KT to be positive for well-being.
The qualitative analysis showed that caregivers perceived emotional and functional benefits from more content and calmer residents, a larger variety in basic care practices, and a more self-determined scope of action. Residents reported gains in attention and caring, and recognition of their lay knowledge.
Residents showed typical characteristics of nursing home inhabitants. Caregivers demonstrated good work ability. Both reported to have benefits from KT. The results provide a good basis for future projects, e.g. controlled studies to evaluate the effects of CAM in nursing homes.
PMCID: PMC4246522  PMID: 25391537
Hydrotherapy; Kneipp; Complementary and alternative medicine; Elderly care; Nursing homes; Mixed methods research
22.  Older Persons’ Transitions in Care (OPTIC): a study protocol 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:75.
Changes in health status, triggered by events such as infections, falls, and geriatric syndromes, are common among nursing home (NH) residents and necessitate transitions between NHs and Emergency Departments (EDs). During transitions, residents frequently experience care that is delayed, unnecessary, not evidence-based, potentially unsafe, and fragmented. Furthermore, a high proportion of residents and their family caregivers report substantial unmet needs during transitions. This study is part of a program of research whose overall aim is to improve quality of care for frail older adults who reside in NHs. The purpose of this study is to identify successful transitions from multiple perspectives and to identify organizational and individual factors related to transition success, in order to inform improvements in care for frail elderly NH residents during transitions to and from acute care. Specific objectives are to:
1. define successful and unsuccessful elements of transitions from multiple perspectives;
2. develop and test a practical tool to assess transition success;
3. assess transition processes in a discrete set of transfers in two study sites over a one year period;
4. assess the influence of organizational factors in key practice locations, e.g., NHs, emergency medical services (EMS), and EDs, on transition success; and
5. identify opportunities for evidence-informed management and quality improvement decisions related to the management of NH – ED transitions.
This is a mixed-methods observational study incorporating an integrated knowledge translation (IKT) approach. It uses data from multiple levels (facility, care unit, individual) and sources (healthcare providers, residents, health records, and administrative databases).
Key to study success is operationalizing the IKT approach by using a partnership model in which the OPTIC governance structure provides for team decision-makers and researchers to participate equally in developing study goals, design, data collection, analysis and implications of findings. As preliminary and ongoing study findings are developed, their implications for practice and policy in study settings will be discussed by the research team and shared with study site administrators and staff. The study is designed to investigate the complexities of transitions and to enhance the potential for successful and sustained improvement of these transitions.
PMCID: PMC3570479  PMID: 23241360
Seniors; Elderly; Transitions; Quality of care; Handovers; Communications; Emergency Departments; Emergency Medical Services; Nursing homes; Measurement
23.  Reducing depression in older home care clients: design of a prospective study of a nurse-led interprofessional mental health promotion intervention 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:50.
Very little research has been conducted in the area of depression among older home care clients using personal support services. These older adults are particularly vulnerable to depression because of decreased cognition, comorbid chronic conditions, functional limitations, lack of social support, and reduced access to health services. To date, research has focused on collaborative, nurse-led depression care programs among older adults in primary care settings. Optimal management of depression among older home care clients is not currently known. The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a 6-month nurse-led, interprofessional mental health promotion intervention aimed at older home care clients with depressive symptoms using personal support services.
This one-group pre-test post-test study aims to recruit a total of 250 long-stay (> 60 days) home care clients, 70 years or older, with depressive symptoms who are receiving personal support services through a home care program in Ontario, Canada. The nurse-led intervention is a multi-faceted 6-month program led by a Registered Nurse that involves regular home visits, monthly case conferences, and evidence-based assessment and management of depression using an interprofessional approach. The primary outcome is the change in severity of depressive symptoms from baseline to 6 months using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Depression Scale. Secondary outcomes include changes in the prevalence of depressive symptoms and anxiety, health-related quality of life, cognitive function, and the rate and appropriateness of depression treatment from baseline to 12 months. Changes in the costs of use of health services will be assessed from a societal perspective. Descriptive and qualitative data will be collected to examine the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention and identify barriers and facilitators to implementation.
Data collection began in May 2010 and is expected to be completed by July 2012. A collaborative nurse-led strategy may provide a feasible, acceptable and effective means for improving the health of older home care clients by improving the prevention, recognition, and management of depression in this vulnerable population. The challenges involved in designing a practical, transferable and sustainable nurse-led intervention in home care are also discussed.
Trial Registration NCT01407926
PMCID: PMC3184267  PMID: 21867539
Depression; Ageing; Chronic Illness; Clinical Effectiveness; Home Care; Nurse-Led Interventions; Mental Health Promotion
24.  Improving person-centred care in nursing homes through dementia-care mapping: design of a cluster-randomised controlled trial 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:1.
The effectiveness and efficiency of nursing-home dementia care are suboptimal: there are high rates of neuropsychiatric symptoms among the residents and work-related stress among the staff. Dementia-care mapping is a person-centred care method that may alleviate both the resident and the staff problems. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dementia-care mapping in nursing-home dementia care.
The study is a cluster-randomised controlled trial, with nursing homes grouped in clusters. Studywise minimisation is the allocation method. Nursing homes in the intervention group will receive a dementia-care-mapping intervention, while the control group will receive usual care. The primary outcome measure is resident agitation, to be assessed with the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory. The secondary outcomes are resident neuropsychiatric symptoms, assessed with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory - Nursing Homes and quality of life, assessed with Qualidem and the EQ-5D. The staff outcomes are stress reactions, job satisfaction and job-stress-related absenteeism, and staff turnover rate, assessed with the Questionnaire about Experience and Assessment of Work, the General Health Questionnaire-12, and the Maastricht Job Satisfaction Scale for Health Care, respectively. We will collect the data from the questionnaires and electronic registration systems. We will employ linear mixed-effect models and cost-effectiveness analyses to evaluate the outcomes. We will use structural equation modelling in the secondary analysis to evaluate the plausibility of a theoretical model regarding the effectiveness of the dementia-care mapping intervention. We will set up process analyses, including focus groups with staff, to determine the relevant facilitators of and barriers to implementing dementia-care mapping broadly.
A novelty of dementia-care mapping is that it offers an integral person-centred approach to dementia care in nursing homes. The major strengths of the study design are the large sample size, the cluster-randomisation, and the one-year follow-up. The generalisability of the implementation strategies may be questionable because the motivation for person-centred care in both the intervention and control nursing homes is above average. The results of this study may be useful in improving the quality of care and are relevant for policymakers.
Trial registration
The trial is registered in the Netherlands National Trial Register: NTR2314.
PMCID: PMC3267673  PMID: 22214264
25.  Feasibility of a multidimensional home-based exercise programme for the elderly with structured support given by the general practitioner's surgery: Study protocol of a single arm trial preparing an RCT [ISRCTN58562962] 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:37.
Physical activity programmes can help to prevent functional decline in the elderly. Until now, such programmes use to target either on healthy community-dwelling seniors or on elderly living in special residences or care institutions. Sedentary or frail people, however, are difficult to reach when they live in their own homes. The general practitioner's (GP) practice offers a unique opportunity to acquire these people for participation in activity programmes. We conceptualised a multidimensional home-based exercise programme that shall be delivered to the target group through cooperation between GPs and exercise therapists. In order to prepare a randomised controlled trial (RCT), a feasibility study is being conducted.
The study is designed as a single arm interventional trial. We plan to recruit 90 patients aged 70 years and above through their GPs. The intervention lasts 12 weeks and consists of physical activity counselling, a home-exercise programme, and exercise consultations provided by an exercise therapist in the GP's practice and via telephone. The exercise programme consists of two main components: 1. a combination of home-exercises to improve strength, flexibility and balance, 2. walking for exercise to improve aerobic capacity. Primary outcome measures are: appraisal by GP, undesirable events, drop-outs, adherence. Secondary outcome measures are: effects (a. motor tests: timed-up-and-go, chair rising, grip strength, tandem stand, tandem walk, sit-and-reach; b. telephone interview: PRISCUS-Physical Activity Questionnaire, Short Form-8 Health Survey, three month recall of frequency of falls, Falls Efficacy Scale), appraisal by participant, exercise performance, focus group discussion. Data analyses will focus on: 1. decision-making concerning the conduction of a RCT, 2. estimation of the effects of the programme, detection of shortcomings and identification of subgroups with contrary results, 3. feedback to participants and to GPs.
A new cooperation between GPs and exercise therapists to approach community-dwelling seniors and to deliver a home-exercise programme is object of research with regard to feasibility and acceptance. In case of success, an RCT should examine the effects of the programme. A future implementation within primary medical care may take advantage from the flexibility of the programme.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN58562962.
PMCID: PMC2753322  PMID: 19686587

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