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1.  Which Frail Older Patients Use Online Health Communities and Why? A Mixed Methods Process Evaluation of Use of the Health and Welfare Portal 
Frail older people often receive fragmented care from multiple providers. According to the literature, there is an urgent need for coordination of care. Online and eHealth tools are increasingly used to improve coordination. However, there are significant barriers to their implementation in frail older people.
Our aim was to (1) evaluate differences in use of a personal online health community (POHC) for frail older people in relation to personal characteristics, and (2) explore barriers and facilitators for use as experienced by older people and their informal caregivers, using the case of the Health and Welfare Information Portal (ZWIP).
This is a mixed methods study. For the quantitative analysis, we used POHC usage information (2 years follow-up) and baseline characteristics of frail older people. For the qualitative analysis, we used semistructured interviews with older people and their informal caregivers. Participants were recruited from 11 family practices in the east of the Netherlands and frail older people over 70 years. The ZWIP intervention is a personal online health community for frail older people, their informal caregivers, and their providers. ZWIP was developed at the Geriatrics Department of Radboud University Medical Center. We collected data on POHC use for 2 years as well as relevant patient characteristics. Interview topics were description of use, reasons for use and non-use, and user profiles.
Of 622 frail patients in the intervention group, 290 were connected to ZWIP; 79 used ZWIP regularly (at least monthly). Main predictors for use were having an informal caregiver, having problems with activities of daily living, and having a large number of providers. Family practice level predictors were being located in a village, and whether the family practitioners had previously used electronic consultation and cared for a large percentage of frail older people. From 23 interviews, main reasons for use were perceiving ZWIP to be a good, quick, and easy way of communicating with providers and the presence of active health problems. Important reasons for non-use were lack of computer skills and preferring traditional means of consultation.
Only 27.2% (79/290) of frail older enrolled in the POHC intervention used the POHC frequently. For implementation of personal online health communities, older people with active health problems and a sizable number of health care providers should be targeted, and the informal caregiver, if present, should be involved in the implementation process.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): 11165483; (Archived by WebCite at
PMCID: PMC4275472  PMID: 25519769
eHealth; frail older people; care-coordination; chronic care
2.  Filling the Gaps in a Fragmented Health Care System: Development of the Health and Welfare Information Portal (ZWIP) 
JMIR Research Protocols  2012;1(2):e10.
Current health care systems are not optimally designed to meet the needs of our aging populations. First, the fragmentation of care often results in discontinuity of care that can undermine the quality of care provided. Second, patient involvement in care decisions is not sufficiently facilitated.
To describe the development and the content of a program aimed at: (1) facilitating self-management and shared decision making by frail older people and informal caregivers, and (2) reducing fragmentation of care by improving collaboration among professionals involved in the care of frail older people through a combined multidisciplinary electronic health record (EHR) and personal health record (PHR).
We used intervention mapping to systematically develop our program in six consecutive steps. Throughout this development, the target populations (ie, professionals, frail older people, and informal caregivers) were involved extensively through their participation in semi-structured interviews and working groups.
We developed the Health and Welfare Information Portal (ZWIP), a personal, Internet-based conference table for multidisciplinary communication and information exchange for frail older people, their informal caregivers, and professionals. Further, we selected and developed methods for implementation of the program, which included an interdisciplinary educational course for professionals involved in the care of frail older people, and planned the evaluation of the program.
This paper describes the successful development and the content of the ZWIP as well as the strategies developed for its implementation. Throughout the development, representatives of future users were involved extensively. Future studies will establish the effects of the ZWIP on self-management and shared decision making by frail older people as well as on collaboration among the professionals involved.
PMCID: PMC3626145  PMID: 23611877
Self-care; cooperative behavior; interdisciplinary communication; electronic health records; frail elderly
3.  Evaluation of an eHealth Intervention in Chronic Care for Frail Older People: Why Adherence is the First Target 
Older people suffering from frailty often receive fragmented chronic care from multiple professionals. According to the literature, there is an urgent need for coordination of care.
The objective of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of an online health community (OHC) intervention for older people with frailty aimed at facilitating multidisciplinary communication.
The design was a controlled before-after study with 12 months follow-up in 11 family practices in the eastern part of the Netherlands. Participants consisted of frail older people living in the community requiring multidisciplinary (long-term) care. The intervention used was the health and welfare portal (ZWIP): an OHC for frail elderly patients, their informal caregivers and professionals. ZWIP contains a secure messaging system supplemented by a shared electronic health record. Primary outcomes were scores on the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale (IADL), mental health, and social activity limitations.
There were 290 patients in the intervention group and 392 in the control group. Of these, 76/290 (26.2%) in the intervention group actively used ZWIP. After 12 months follow-up, we observed no significant improvement on primary patient outcomes. ADL improved in the intervention group with a standardized score of 0.21 (P=.27); IADL improved with 0.50 points, P=.64.
Only a small percentage of frail elderly people in the study intensively used ZWIP, our newly developed and innovative eHealth tool. The use of this OHC did not significantly improve patient outcomes. This was most likely due to the limited use of the OHC, and a relatively short follow-up time. Increasing actual use of eHealth intervention seems a precondition for large-scale evaluation, and earlier adoption before frailty develops may improve later use and effectiveness of ZWIP.
PMCID: PMC4090371  PMID: 24966146
eHealth; frail elderly; care coordination; chronic care
4.  The CareWell-primary care program: design of a cluster controlled trial and process evaluation of a complex intervention targeting community-dwelling frail elderly 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:115.
With increasing age and longevity, the rising number of frail elders with complex and numerous health-related needs demands a coordinated health care delivery system integrating cure, care and welfare. Studies on the effectiveness of such comprehensive chronic care models targeting frail elders show inconclusive results. The CareWell-primary care program is a complex intervention targeting community-dwelling frail elderly people, that aims to prevent functional decline, improve quality of life, and reduce or postpone hospital and nursing home admissions of community dwelling frail elderly.
The CareWell-primary care study includes a (cost-) effectiveness study and a comprehensive process evaluation. In a one-year pragmatic, cluster controlled trial, six general practices are non-randomly recruited to adopt the CareWell-primary care program and six control practices will deliver ‘care as usual’. Each practice includes a random sample of fifty frail elders aged 70 years or above in the cost-effectiveness study. A sample of patients and informal caregivers and all health care professionals participating in the CareWell-primary care program are included in the process evaluation. In the cost-effectiveness study, the primary outcome is the level of functional abilities as measured with the Katz-15 index. Hierarchical mixed-effects regression models / multilevel modeling approach will be used, since the study participants are nested within the general practices. Furthermore, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios will be calculated as costs per QALY gained and as costs weighed against functional abilities. In the process evaluation, mixed methods will be used to provide insight in the implementation degree of the program, patients’ and professionals’ approval of the program, and the barriers and facilitators to implementation.
The CareWell-primary care study will provide new insights into the (cost-) effectiveness, feasibility, and barriers and facilitators for implementation of this complex intervention in primary care.
Trial registration
The CareWell-primary care study is registered in the Protocol Registration System: NCT01499797
PMCID: PMC3527269  PMID: 23216685
Frail elderly; Complex intervention; Integrated care; Functional status; Cost-effectiveness; Implementation; Process evaluation; Primary care
5.  Design of a randomized controlled study of a multi-professional and multidimensional intervention targeting frail elderly people 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:24.
Frail elderly people need an integrated and coordinated care. The two-armed study "Continuum of care for frail elderly people" is a multi-professional and multidimensional intervention for frail community-dwelling elderly people. It was designed to evaluate whether the intervention programme for frail elderly people can reduce the number of visits to hospital, increase satisfaction with health and social care and maintain functional abilities. The implementation process is explored and analysed along with the intervention. In this paper we present the study design, the intervention and the outcome measures as well as the baseline characteristics of the study participants.
The study is a randomised two-armed controlled trial with follow ups at 3, 6 and 12 months. The study group includes elderly people who sought care at the emergency ward and discharged to their own homes in the community. Inclusion criteria were 80 years and older or 65 to 79 years with at least one chronic disease and dependent in at least one activity of daily living. Exclusion criteria were acute severely illness with an immediate need of the assessment and treatment by a physician, severe cognitive impairment and palliative care. The intention was that the study group should comprise a representative sample of frail elderly people at a high risk of future health care consumption. The intervention includes an early geriatric assessment, early family support, a case manager in the community with a multi-professional team and the involvement of the elderly people and their relatives in the planning process.
The design of the study, the randomisation procedure and the protocol meetings were intended to ensure the quality of the study. The implementation of the intervention programme is followed and analysed throughout the whole study, which enables us to generate knowledge on the process of implementing complex interventions. The intervention contributes to early recognition of both the elderly peoples' needs of information, care and rehabilitation and of informal caregivers' need of support and information. This study is expected to show positive effects on frail elderly peoples' health care consumption, functional abilities and satisfaction with health and social care.
Trial registration NCT01260493
PMCID: PMC3118103  PMID: 21569570
6.  Early detection of health problems in potentially frail community-dwelling older people by general practices - project [G]OLD: design of a longitudinal, quasi-experimental study 
BMC Geriatrics  2013;13:7.
Due to the ageing of the population, the number of frail older people who suffer from multiple, complex health complaints increases and this ultimately threatens their ability to function independently. Many interventions for frail older people attempt to prevent or delay functional decline, but they show contradicting results. Recent studies emphasise the importance of embedding these interventions into existing primary care systems and tailoring care to older people’s needs and wishes. This article presents the design of an evaluation study, aiming to investigate the effects and feasibility of the early detection of health problems among community-dwelling older people and their subsequent referral to appropriate care and/or well-being facilities by general practices.
A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study is designed comparing 13 intervention practices with 11 control practices. General practices select eligible community-dwelling older people (≥ 75 years). Practice nurses from intervention practices (1) visit older people at home for a comprehensive assessment of their health and well-being; (2) discuss results with the GP; (3) formulate – if required – a care and treatment plan together with the patient; (4) refer patient to care and/or well-being facilities; and (5) monitor and coordinate care and follow-up. Control practices provide usual care and match the intervention practices on the presence of different primary care professionals within the practice. Primary outcome measures are health-related quality of life and disability. Additionally, attitude towards ageing, care satisfaction, health care utilisation, nursing home admission and mortality are measured. Some outcomes are assessed by means of a postal questionnaire (at baseline and after 6, 12, and 18 months follow-up), others through continuous registration over the 18-month period. A profound process evaluation will provide insight into barriers and facilitators for implementing the intervention protocol within general practices from both the patient and caregiver perspective.
The proposed approach requires redesigning care delivery within general practices for accomplishing appropriate care for older people. A quasi-experimental design is chosen to closely resemble a real-life situation, which is desirable for future implementation after this innovation proves to be successful. Results of the effect and process evaluation will become available in 2013.
Trial registration
The Netherlands National Trial Register NTR2737
PMCID: PMC3570480  PMID: 23331486
Frailty; Older people; Comprehensive geriatric assessment; Home visit; General practice; Quasi-experimental design
7.  Implementing the chronic care model for frail older adults in the Netherlands: study protocol of ACT (frail older adults: care in transition) 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:19.
Care for older adults is facing a number of challenges: health problems are not consistently identified at a timely stage, older adults report a lack of autonomy in their care process, and care systems are often confronted with the need for better coordination between health care professionals. We aim to address these challenges by introducing the geriatric care model, based on the chronic care model, and to evaluate its effects on the quality of life of community-dwelling frail older adults.
In a 2-year stepped-wedge cluster randomised clinical trial with 6-monthly measurements, the chronic care model will be compared with usual care. The trial will be carried out among 35 primary care practices in two regions in the Netherlands. Per region, practices will be randomly allocated to four allocation arms designating the starting point of the intervention. Participants: 1200 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 or over and their primary informal caregivers. Primary care physicians will identify frail individuals based on a composite definition of frailty and a polypharmacy criterion. Final inclusion criterion: scoring 3 or more on a disability case-finding tool. Intervention: Every 6 months patients will receive a geriatric in-home assessment by a practice nurse, followed by a tailored care plan. Expert teams will manage and train practice nurses. Patients with complex care needs will be reviewed in interdisciplinary consultations. Evaluation: We will perform an effect evaluation, an economic evaluation, and a process evaluation. Primary outcome is quality of life as measured with the Short Form-12 questionnaire. Effect analyses will be based on the “intention-to-treat” principle, using multilevel regression analysis. Cost measurements will be administered continually during the study period. A cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-utility analysis will be conducted comparing mean total costs to functional status, care needs and QALYs. We will investigate the level of implementation, barriers and facilitators to successful implementation and the extent to which the intervention manages to achieve the transition necessary to overcome challenges in elderly care.
This is one of the first studies assessing the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and implementation process of the chronic care model for frail community-dwelling older adults.
Trial registration
The Netherlands National Trial Register NTR2160.
PMCID: PMC3464922  PMID: 22545816
Chronic care model; Frailty; Elderly; Primary care; Stepped wedge cluster randomised controlled clinical trial
8.  The reduction of disability in community-dwelling frail older people: design of a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:511.
Frailty among older people is related to an increased risk of adverse health outcomes such as acute and chronic diseases, disability and mortality. Although many intervention studies for frail older people have been reported, only a few have shown positive effects regarding disability prevention. This article presents the design of a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial on the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and feasibility of a primary care intervention that combines the most promising elements of disability prevention in community-dwelling frail older people.
In this study twelve general practitioner practices were randomly allocated to the intervention group (6 practices) or to the control group (6 practices). Three thousand four hundred ninety-eight screening questionnaires including the Groningen Frailty Indicator (GFI) were sent out to identify frail older people. Based on their GFI score (≥5), 360 participants will be included in the study. The intervention will receive an interdisciplinary primary care intervention. After a comprehensive assessment by a practice nurse and additional assessments by other professionals, if needed, an individual action plan will be defined. The action plan is related to a flexible toolbox of interventions, which will be conducted by an interdisciplinary team. Effects of the intervention, both for the frail older people and their informal caregivers, will be measured after 6, 12 and 24 months using postal questionnaires and telephone interviews. Data for the process evaluation and economic evaluation will be gathered continuously over a 24-month period.
The proposed study will provide information about the usefulness of an interdisciplinary primary care intervention. The postal screening procedure was conducted in two cycles between December 2009 and April 2010 and turned out to be a feasible method. The response rate was 79.7%. According to GFI scores 29.3% of the respondents can be considered as frail (GFI ≥ 5). Nearly half of them (48.1%) were willing to participate. The baseline measurements started in January 2010. In February 2010 the first older people were approached by the practice nurse for a comprehensive assessment. Data on the effect, process, and economic evaluation will be available in 2012.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2936429  PMID: 20731836
9.  Home visits for frail older people: a qualitative study on the needs and preferences of frail older people and their informal caregivers 
The British Journal of General Practice  2012;62(601):e554-e560.
A number of studies have examined the effects of home visits and showed inconsistent results on physical functioning, institutionalisation, and mortality. Despite continuing interest from professionals in home visits for older people, reports on older people’s needs and preferences for such visits are scarce.
This qualitative study aims to explore the views and needs of community-dwelling frail older people concerning home visits.
Design and setting
A qualitative study including interviews with frail older persons and their informal caregivers living in the area of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with frail older people and informal caregivers. A grounded theory approach was used for data-analysis.
Eleven frail older people and 11 informal caregivers were included. Most participants emphasised the importance of home visits for frail older people. They felt that it would give older people the personal attention they used to receive from GPs but miss nowadays. Most stated that this would give them more trust in GPs. Participants stated that trust is one of the most important factors in a good patient–professional relationship. Further, participants preferred home visits to focus on the psychosocial context of the patient. They stated that more knowledge of the psychosocial context and a good patient–professional relationship would enable the professional to provide better and more patient-centred care.
Patients’ expectations of home visits are quite different from the actual purpose of home visiting programmes; that is, care and wellbeing versus cure and prevention. This difference may partly explain why the effectiveness of home visits remains controversial. Future studies on home visits should involve patients in the development of home visiting programmes.
PMCID: PMC3404333  PMID: 22867679
frail elderly; house calls; patient preference; primary health care
10.  PRISMA in Québec and France: implementation and impact of a coordination-type integrated service delivery (ISD) system for frail older people 
Several models of integrated service delivery (ISD) networks are presently experimented in Canada and elsewhere, but most of them are designed according to a full integration model (PACE, S-HMO, SIPA). PRISMA is the only example of a coordinated-type model to be developed and fully implemented with a process and outcome evaluation.
The PRISMA model includes the following components to enhance the integration: 1) co-operation between decision-makers and managers of all services and institutions, 2) the use of a single entry point, 3) case management process, 4) individualized service plans, 5) a unique disability-based assessment tool (SMAF) with a case-mix system (Iso-SMAF profiles) and case-finding tool (PRISMA-7), and 6) a computerized system for communicating between institutions and professionals.
The PRISMA model
The PRISMA model was implemented in three areas (urban, rural with or without a local hospital) in Québec, Canada and research was carried out using both qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate its process and impact. An efficiency study was carried out, considering societal costs and all population impacts.
Based on the population impact demonstration, the PRISMA model has also been adapted and implemented in France. This symposium will present the implementation, impact and efficiency of the Québec experimentation, and the implementation transfer in France.
The 4 abstracts related to this project presentation:
1. Description and implementation of the PRISMA ISD system in Québec
Hébert R, Veil A, Raîche M, Dubois M-F, Dubuc N, Tousignant M
Components: The six components of the PRISMA model will be presented. The model was implemented in three areas (urban, rural with or without a local hospital) in Québec, Canada and the implementation evaluation was carried out using mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods. Over four years, the implementation rates went from 22% to 79%. The perception of integration by managers and clinicians working in the different organizations of the network shows that most interactions are perceived at the cooperation level and some getting to the highest collaboration level. The perception of efficacy of case managers was very high. Implementing such model is feasible and decision to generalize it was made in Québec.
2. Population impact of PRISMA on frail older people and utilization of health and social services
Hébert R, Raîche M, Dubois M-F, Gueye NR, Dubuc N, Tousignant M
Objective: The objective of the population impact study was to evaluate the impact of the PRISMA model on health, satisfaction and services utilization of frail older people. It was a population-based study with a quasi-experimental design. From a random selection of people over 75 years old, a sample of 1501 persons identified at risk of functional decline was recruited in the three experimental areas (n=751) and three comparison zones (n=800). Subjects were measured at baseline and yearly for four years on functional autonomy, satisfaction with services and empowerment. Functional decline was defined as a loss of five points on the SMAF disability scale, institutionalization or death. Information on utilization of health and social services (public, private and community) was collected by bi-monthly phone questionnaires.
Results: When the last two years (where implementation rate was over 75%) were compared with first two years, the experimental group presented a difference of 6.3% on functional decline prevalence (p=0.03). Satisfaction and empowerment were significantly higher (both p<0.001) in the experimental group. For health services utilization, a 20% reduction of visits to emergency room (p<0.001) was observed in the experimental cohort. The hospitalization rate was also lower in the experimental group but the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.19). No significant effect was observed on other services.
3. Efficiency of the PRISMA model regarding population impacts
Durand S, Hébert R, Blanchette D, Buteau M
Efficiency: Assessing the efficiency of PRISMA is based on a comprehensive economic evaluation, with a societal approach. Given the implementation complexity of the six components in this innovative integration model, a micro-analysis was performed to assess its implementation and operational costs for the three experimental areas. The impact on residential, health and social services expenditures was also valued, based on use data collected during bimonthly interviews. Unit costs of these numerous services were estimated according to the opportunity cost approach. All these economic data were compared with the results of the population impact study through a cost-consequences analysis in order to measure PRISMA efficiency.
Results: The overall cost was not higher in the experimental group. It seems that implementation and operational costs of the PRISMA were offset relatively quickly by the savings likely stemming from better-adapted services. Also, the PRISMA had no effect on the mix of public, private and community costs. The population impact study showed positive impacts on functional decline prevalence, on handicaps, and on older people's satisfaction and empowerment. The only negative impact on the population is caregiver burden. Overall, these findings add evidence in support of increased efficiency under PRISMA.
4. Poster abstract: the PRISMA France study: implementation rate and factors influencing this rate
Somme D, Trouve H, Etheridge F, Gagnon D, Couturier Y, Balard F, Saint-Jean O
See elsewhere in this supplement.
PMCID: PMC2807086
PRISMA model; integrated service delivery
11.  Reactions to caregiving during an intervention targeting frailty in community living older people 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:66.
The demands and consequences of caregiving are considerable. However, such outcomes are not commonly investigated in the evaluation of interventions targeting frailty. This study aims to explore family carers’ reactions to caregiving during an intervention targeting frailty in community living older people.
A study of carers (n=119) embedded in a 12 month randomised controlled intervention targeting frailty in people 70 years or older, compared to usual care. Reactions to caregiving were measured in the domains of health, finance, self-esteem, family support and daily schedule. Anxiety and depression levels were also evaluated. Carer outcomes were measured at baseline, 6 months and 12 months and at 3 months post frailty intervention.
Carers of frail older people in the intervention group showed a sustained improvement in health scores during the intervention targeting frailty, while health scores for carers of the frail older people in the control group, decreased and therefore their health worsened (F=2.956, p=0.034). The carers of the frail older people in the intervention group reported overall better health (F=5.303, p=0.023) and self-esteem (F=4.158, p=0.044), and co-resident carers reported higher self-esteem (F=4.088, p=0.046). Anxiety levels increased for carers in both intervention and control groups (F=2.819, p=0.04).
The inclusion of carers in trials targeting frail older people may assist in the identification of at-risk carers and facilitate the provision of information and support that will assist them to continue providing care. Further research that explores the features of frailty interventions that impact on the caregiving experience is recommended.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12608000565347
PMCID: PMC3571864  PMID: 23095644
Carers; Frailty; Caregiving; Older persons; Assessment
12.  Effect of a multifactorial interdisciplinary intervention on mobility-related disability in frail older people: randomised controlled trial 
BMC Medicine  2012;10:120.
Interventions that enhance mobility in frail older people are needed to maintain health and independence, yet definitive evidence of effective interventions is lacking. Our objective was to assess the impact of a multifactorial intervention on mobility-related disability in frail older people.
We conducted a randomised, controlled trial with 241 frail community-dwelling older people in Sydney, Australia. Participants were classified as frail using the Cardiovascular Health Study definition, did not have severe cognitive impairment and were recently discharged from an aged care and rehabilitation service. The experimental group received a 12 month multifactorial, interdisciplinary intervention targeting identified frailty components. Two physiotherapists delivered a home exercise program targeting mobility, and coordinated management of psychological and medical conditions with other health professionals. The control group received usual care. Disability in the mobility domain was measured at baseline and at 3 and 12 months using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework. Participation (involvement in life situations) was assessed using the Life Space Assessment and the Goal Attainment Scale. Activity (execution of mobility tasks) was measured using the 4-metre walk and self-report measures.
The mean age of participants was 83.3 years (SD: 5.9 years). Of the participants recruited, 216 (90%) were followed-up at 12 months. At this time point, the intervention group had significantly better scores than the control group on the Goal Attainment Scale (odds ratio 2.1; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.3 to 3.3, P = 0.004) and Life Space Assessment (4.68 points, 95% CI 1.4 to 9.9, P = 0.005). There was no difference between groups on the global measure of participation or satisfaction with ability to get out of the house. At the activity level, the intervention group walked 0.05 m/s faster over 4 m (95% CI 0.0004 to 0.1, P = 0.048) than the control group, and scored higher on the Activity Measure for Post Acute Care (P < 0.001).
The intervention reduced mobility-related disability in frail older people. The benefit was evident at both the participation and activity levels of mobility-related disability.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ANZCTRN12608000507381.
PMCID: PMC3517433  PMID: 23067364
exercise; frail elderly; International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health; RCT
13.  Nurse-led home visitation programme to improve health-related quality of life and reduce disability among potentially frail community-dwelling older people in general practice: a theory-based process evaluation 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15(1):173.
Population ageing fosters new models of care delivery for older people that are increasingly integrated into existing care systems. In the Netherlands, a primary-care based preventive home visitation programme has been developed for potentially frail community-dwelling older people (aged ≥75 years), consisting of a comprehensive geriatric assessment during a home visit by a practice nurse followed by targeted interdisciplinary care and follow-up over time. A theory-based process evaluation was designed to examine (1) the extent to which the home visitation programme was implemented as planned and (2) the extent to which general practices successfully redesigned their care delivery.
Using a mixed-methods approach, the focus was on fidelity (quality of implementation), dose delivered (completeness), dose received (exposure and satisfaction), reach (participation rate), recruitment, and context. Twenty-four general practices participated, of which 13 implemented the home visitation programme and 11 delivered usual care to older people. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews with practice nurses (PNs), general practitioners (GPs), and older people; feedback meetings with PNs; structured registration forms filled-out by PNs; and narrative descriptions of the recruitment procedures and registration of inclusion and drop-outs by members of the research team.
Fidelity of implementation was acceptable, but time constraints and inadequate reach (i.e., the relatively healthy older people participated) negatively influenced complete delivery of protocol elements, such as interdisciplinary cooperation and follow-up of older people over time. The home visitation programme was judged positively by PNs, GPs, and older people. Useful tools were offered to general practices for organising proactive geriatric care.
The home visitation programme did not have major shortcomings in itself, but the delivery offered room for improvement. General practices received useful tools to redesign their care delivery from reactive towards proactive care, but perceived barriers require attention to allow for sustainability of the home visitation programme over time.
PMCID: PMC4213477  PMID: 25344322
Frail elderly; General practice; Geriatric assessment; Home visit; Mixed-methods; Practice nurse; Primary care; Process evaluation; Program implementation
14.  Interventions to delay institutionalization of frail older persons: design of a longitudinal study in the home care setting 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:615.
Older people usually prefer staying at home rather than going into residential care. The Belgian National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance wishes to invest in home care by financing innovative projects that effectively help older people to stay at home longer. In this study protocol we describe the evaluation of 34 home care projects. These projects are clustered according to the type of their main intervention such as case management, night care, occupational therapy at home and psychological/psychosocial support. The main goal of this study is to identify which types of projects have the most effect in delaying institutionalization of frail older persons.
This is a longitudinal intervention study based on a quasi-experimental design. Researchers use three comparison strategies to evaluate intervention - comparison among different types of projects, comparisons between older persons in the projects and older persons not benefiting from a project but who are still at home and between older persons in the projects and older persons who are already institutionalized. Projects are asked to include clients who are frail and at risk of institutionalization. In the study we use internationally validated instruments such as the interRAI Home Care instrument, the WHO-QOL-8 and the Zarit Burden Interview-12. These instruments are filled out at baseline, at exit from the project and 6 months after baseline. Additionally, caregivers have to do a follow-up every 6 months until exit from the project. Criteria to exit the cohort will be institutionalization longer than 3 months and death. The main analysis in the study consists of the calculation of incidence rates, cumulative incidence rates and hazard rates of definitive institutionalization through survival analyses for each type of project.
This research will provide knowledge on the functional status of frail older persons who are still living at home. This is important information to identify determinants of risk for institutionalization. The identification of effective home care projects in delaying institutionalization will be useful to inform and empower home care providers, policy and related decision makers to manage and improve home care services.
PMCID: PMC3490799  PMID: 22867442
Innovative home care; Project evaluation; Frail older persons; Delay of institutionalization
15.  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
16.  A Population-Based Intervention for the Prevention of Falls and Fractures in Home Dwelling People 65 Years and Older in South Germany: Protocol 
JMIR Research Protocols  2014;3(1):e19.
Falls and fall-related injuries pose a major threat to older peoples’ health, and are associated with increased morbidity and mortality. In the course of demographic changes, development and implementation of fall prevention strategies have been recognized as an urgent public health challenge. Various risk factors for falls and a number of effective interventions have been recognized. A substantial proportion of falls occur for people who are neither frail nor at high risk. Therefore, population-based approaches reaching the entire older population are needed.
The objective of the study presented is the development, implementation, and evaluation of a population-based intervention for the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries in a medium sized city in Germany.
The study is designed as a population-based approach. The intervention community is a mid sized city named Reutlingen in southern Germany with a population of 112,700 people. All community dwelling inhabitants 65 years and older are addressed. There are two main measures that are defined: (1) increase of overall physical activity, and (2) reduction of modifiable risk factors for falls such as deficits in strength and balance, home and environmental hazards, impaired vision, unsafe footwear, and improper use of assistive devices. The implementation strategies are developed in a participatory community planning process. These might include, for example, training of professionals and volunteers, improved availability of exercise classes, and education and raising awareness via newspaper, radio, or lectures.
The study starts in September 2010 and ends in December 2013. It is evaluated primarily by process evaluation as well as by telephone survey.
Physical activity as a key message entails multiple positive effects with benefits on a range of geriatric symptoms. The strength of the design is the development of implementation strategies in a participatory community planning. The problems that we anticipate are the dependency on the stakeholders’ willingness to participate, and the difficulty of evaluating population-based programs by hard end points.
PMCID: PMC4004152  PMID: 24686959
falls; accidental falls; population-based intervention; fall prevention; community; aged; risk factors
17.  A Frailty Instrument for primary care: findings from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:57.
A frailty paradigm would be useful in primary care to identify older people at risk, but appropriate metrics at that level are lacking. We created and validated a simple instrument for frailty screening in Europeans aged ≥50. Our study is based on the first wave of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE,, a large population-based survey conducted in 2004-2005 in twelve European countries.
Subjects: SHARE Wave 1 respondents (17,304 females and 13,811 males). Measures: five SHARE variables approximating Fried's frailty definition. Analyses (for each gender): 1) estimation of a discreet factor (DFactor) model based on the frailty variables using LatentGOLD®. A single DFactor with three ordered levels or latent classes (i.e. non-frail, pre-frail and frail) was modelled; 2) the latent classes were characterised against a biopsychosocial range of Wave 1 variables; 3) the prospective mortality risk (unadjusted and age-adjusted) for each frailty class was established on those subjects with known mortality status at Wave 2 (2007-2008) (11,384 females and 9,163 males); 4) two web-based calculators were created for easy retrieval of a subject's frailty class given any five measurements.
Females: the DFactor model included 15,578 cases (standard R2 = 0.61). All five frailty indicators discriminated well (p < 0.001) between the three classes: non-frail (N = 10,420; 66.9%), pre-frail (N = 4,025; 25.8%), and frail (N = 1,133; 7.3%). Relative to the non-frail class, the age-adjusted Odds Ratio (with 95% Confidence Interval) for mortality at Wave 2 was 2.1 (1.4 - 3.0) in the pre-frail and 4.8 (3.1 - 7.4) in the frail. Males: 12,783 cases (standard R2 = 0.61, all frailty indicators had p < 0.001): non-frail (N = 10,517; 82.3%), pre-frail (N = 1,871; 14.6%), and frail (N = 395; 3.1%); age-adjusted OR (95% CI) for mortality: 3.0 (2.3 - 4.0) in the pre-frail, 6.9 (4.7 - 10.2) in the frail.
The SHARE Frailty Instrument has sufficient construct and predictive validity, and is readily and freely accessible via web calculators. To our knowledge, SHARE-FI represents the first European research effort towards a common frailty language at the community level.
PMCID: PMC2939541  PMID: 20731877
18.  Case management for frail older people – a qualitative study of receivers’ and providers’ experiences of a complex intervention 
Case management interventions have been widely used in the care of frail older people. Such interventions often contain components that may act both independently of each other and interdependently, which makes them complex and challenging to evaluate. Qualitative research is needed for complex interventions to explore barriers and facilitators, and to understand the intervention’s components. The objective of this study was to explore frail older people's and case managers’ experiences of a complex case management intervention.
The study had a qualitative explorative design and interviews with participants (age 75-95 years), who had received the case management intervention and six case managers who had performed the intervention were conducted. The data were subjected to content analysis.
The analysis gave two content areas: providing/receiving case management as a model and working as, or interacting with, a case manager as a professional. The results constituted four categories: (1 and 2) case management as entering a new professional role and the case manager as a coaching guard, as seen from the provider’s perspective; and (3 and 4) case management as a possible additional resource and the case manager as a helping hand, as seen from the receiver’s perspective.
The new professional role could be experienced as both challenging and as a barrier. Continuous professional support is seemingly needed for implementation. Mutual confidence and the participants experiencing trust, continuity and security were important elements and an important prerequisite for the case manager to perform the intervention. It was obvious that some older persons had unfulfilled needs that the ordinary health system was unable to meet. The case manager was seemingly able to fulfil some of these needs and was experienced as a valuable complement to the existing health system.
PMCID: PMC3897947  PMID: 24410755
Case management; Frail elderly; Intervention studies; Qualitative evaluation
19.  Frailty and cardiovascular risk in community-dwelling elderly: a population-based study 
Evidence suggests a possible bidirectional connection between cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the frailty syndrome in older people.
To verify the relationship between CVD risk factors and the frailty syndrome in community-dwelling elderly.
This population-based study used data from the Fragilidade em Idosos Brasileiros (FIBRA) Network Study, a cross-sectional study designed to investigate frailty profiles among Brazilian older adults. Frailty status was defined as the presence of three or more out of five of the following criteria: unintentional weight loss, weakness, self-reported fatigue, slow walking speed, and low physical activity level. The ascertained CVD risk factors were self-reported and/or directly measured hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, waist circumference measurement, and smoking.
Of the 761 participants, 9.7% were characterized as frail, 48.0% as pre-frail, and 42.3% as non-frail. The most prevalent CVD risk factor was hypertension (84.4%) and the lowest one was smoking (10.4%). It was observed that among those participants with four or five risk factors there was a higher proportion of frail and pre-frail compared with non-frail (Fisher’s exact test: P=0.005; P=0.021). Self-reported diabetes mellitus was more prevalent among frail and pre-frail participants when compared with non-frail participants (Fisher’s exact test: P≤0.001; P≤0.001). There was little agreement between self-reported hypertension and hypertension identified by blood pressure measurement.
Hypertension was highly prevalent among the total sample. In addition, frail and pre-frail older people corresponded to a substantial proportion of those with more CVD risk factors, especially diabetes mellitus, highlighting the need for preventive strategies in order to avoid the co-occurrence of CVD and frailty.
PMCID: PMC4199970  PMID: 25336932
frailty syndrome; cardiovascular disease; hypertension; aged
20.  A comparison of Dutch frail older adults in 1998 and 2008: prevalences and determinants 
Society is facing a growing number of older people. With the increase of older people an increase in number of frail persons is expected. But will the increase in number of frail persons parallel the increase of the number of older adults? Or are the features of older adults changing in time and are these changes reducing or amplifying the increase of frail older adults?
To present the differences in prevalence of frail older persons in 1998 and in 2008 and the influence of socio-demographic and health features on the difference between these two cohorts.
The data were collected in the context of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). For this particular study we selected community dwelling respondents aged 65–88 years who had complete data in 1995 or 2008. Frailty was composed out of seven markers: BMI, cognitive functioning, grip strength, tiredness, vision and hearing problems and physical activity. Two cohorts, 1998 and 2008, were compared and the relative numbers of frail older adults in both cohorts were calculated. Next the association of different socio-demographic and health features with frailty was examined.
Preliminary results show a decrease in the prevalence of frail older adults from 18.5% in 1998 to 9.9% in 2008. The prevalence of frail people in 2008 for all age groups decreased compared to 1995 but in particular for the youngest age groups. In addition, the decrease in frail women is more amplified than in men. For all the markers used in defining frailty an improvement is seen for the population in 2008. Multivariate analyses will show in what degree cohort differences in frailty are related to cohort differences in education, income, co-morbidity, partner status, social network, mastery, alcohol use and smoking.
The prevalence of frail elderly in 2008 has declined compared to 1998. This can be explained by improvements in all markers of frailty. Analyses (yet to be completed) will show the influence of socio-demographic and health features.
PMCID: PMC3617773
frail older persons; prevalence; influence of socio-demographic and health features; markers
21.  An interprofessional team approach to fall prevention for older home care clients ‘at risk’ of falling: health care providers share their experiences 
Providing care for older home care clients ‘at risk’ of falling requires the services of many health care providers due to predisposing chronic, complex conditions. One strategy to ensure that quality care is delivered is described in the integrated care literature; interprofessional collaboration. Engaging in an interprofessional team approach to fall prevention for this group of clients seems to make sense. However, whether or not this approach is feasible and realistic is not well described in the literature. As well, little is known about how teams function in the community when an interprofessional approach is engaged in. The barriers and facilitators of such an approach are also not known.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the experiences of five different health care professionals as they participated in an interprofessional team approach to care for the frail older adult living at home and at risk of falling.
This study took place in Hamilton, ON, Canada and was part of a randomized controlled trial, the aim of which was to determine the effects and costs of a multifactorial and interdisciplinary team approach to fall prevention for older home care clients ‘at risk’ of falling. The current study utilized an exploratory descriptive design to answer the following research questions: how do interprofessional teams describe their experiences when involved in a research intervention requiring collaboration for a 9-month period of time? What are the barriers and facilitators to teamwork? Four focus groups were conducted with the care-provider teams (n=9) 6 and 9 months following group formation.
This study revealed several themes which included, team capacity, practitioner competencies, perceived outcomes, support and time. Overall, care providers were positive about their experiences and felt that through an interprofessional approach benefits could be experienced by both the provider and the patient and his/her family. Findings from this study suggest that research needs to be conducted to further explore the issues faced by this group of care providers and potential client outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2691945  PMID: 19513181
care for the elderly; frail elderly; multidisciplinary care; interprofessional; falls
22.  Statin use and clinical outcomes in older men: a prospective population-based study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(3):e002333.
The aim of this analysis was to investigate the relationship of statins with institutionalisation and death in older men living in the community, accounting for frailty.
Prospective cohort study.
Community-dwelling men participating in the Concord Health and Ageing in Men Project, Sydney, Australia.
Men aged ≥70 years (n=1665).
Data collected during baseline assessments and follow-up (maximum of 6.79 years) were obtained. Information regarding statin use was captured at baseline, between 2005 and 2007. Proportional hazards regression analysis was conducted to estimate the risk of institutionalisation and death according to statin use (exposure, duration and dose) and frailty status, with adjustment for sociodemographics, medical diagnosis and other clinically relevant factors. A secondary analysis used propensity score matching to replicate covariate adjustment in regression models.
At baseline, 43% of participants reported taking statins. Over 6.79 years of follow-up, 132 (7.9%) participants were institutionalised and 358 (21.5%) participants had died. In the adjusted models, baseline statin use was not statistically associated with increased risk of institutionalisation (HR=1.60; 95% CI 0.98 to 2.63) or death (HR=0.88; 95% CI 0.66 to 1.18). There was no significant association between duration and dose of statins used with either outcome. Propensity scoring yielded similar findings. Compared with non-frail participants not prescribed statins, the adjusted HR for institutionalisation for non-frail participants prescribed statins was 1.43 (95% CI 0.81 to 2.51); for frail participants not prescribed statins, it was 2.07 (95% CI 1.11 to 3.86) and for frail participants prescribed statins, it was 4.34 (95% CI 2.02 to 9.33).
These data suggest a lack of significant association between statin use and institutionalisation or death in older men. These findings call for real-world trials specifically designed for frail older people to examine the impact of statins on clinical outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3612783  PMID: 23474793
Clinical Pharmacology; Geriatric Medicine
23.  Effectiveness of interdisciplinary primary care approach to reduce disability in community dwelling frail older people: cluster randomised controlled trial 
Objective To evaluate whether an interdisciplinary primary care approach for community dwelling frail older people is more effective than usual care in reducing disability and preventing (further) functional decline.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting 12 general practices in the south of the Netherlands
Participants 346 frail older people (score ≥5 on Groningen Frailty Indicator) were included; 270 (78%) completed the study.
Interventions General practices were randomised to the intervention or control group. Practices in the control group delivered care as usual. Practices in the intervention group implemented the “Prevention of Care” (PoC) approach, in which frail older people received a multidimensional assessment and interdisciplinary care based on a tailor made treatment plan and regular evaluation and follow-up.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was disability, assessed at 24 months by means of the Groningen Activity Restriction Scale. Secondary outcomes were depressive symptomatology, social support interactions, fear of falling, and social participation. Outcomes were measured at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 months’ follow-up.
Results 193 older people in the intervention group (six practices) received the PoC approach; 153 older people in the control group (six practices) received care as usual. Follow-up rates for patients were 91% (n=316) at six months, 86% (n=298) at 12 months, and 78% (n=270) at 24 months. Mixed model multilevel analyses showed no significant differences between the two groups with regard to disability (primary outcome) and secondary outcomes. Pre-planned subgroup analyses confirmed these results.
Conclusions This study found no evidence for the effectiveness of the PoC approach. The study contributes to the emerging body of evidence that community based care in frail older people is a challenging task. More research in this field is needed.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN31954692.
PMCID: PMC3769159  PMID: 24022033
24.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749
25.  What impedes and what facilitates a quality improvement project for older hospitalized patients? 
To gain insight into which factors impede, and which facilitate, the implementation of a complex multi-component improvement initiative in hospitalized older patients.
A qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews. The three dimensions of Pettigrew and Whipp's theoretical framework, namely, Process, Content and Context, were used to undertake a structured data analysis.
The study was conducted in 19 Dutch hospitals implementing the Frail Elderly Project.
Sixty-five members of staff, including physicians, nurses and members of the policy team.
The Frail Elderly Project, a Dutch quality improvement program, aims to decrease adverse events in frail older hospitalized people by implementing screening instruments and interventions targeting delirium, falls, malnutrition and physical impairment.
Main outcome measures
The management of the process of implementation, participants' opinions of the program elements and contextual factors which influence the implementation.
Barriers to implementation included two process factors (insufficient involvement of clinicians and lack of time), two content factors (having divergent objectives and concerns about recommended program elements) and two contextual factors (a lack of knowledge of delirium and minimal insight into the purposes and effects of the program). Facilitating factors included one process factor (leadership), one content factor (flexibility in choosing methods) and two contextual factors (the program's guidance and the use of digital patient records).
We identified the barriers and the factors which facilitate implementing complex multi-component improvement programs concerning care for older patients. These barriers must be resolved in future improvement programs in order to ensure successful implementation.
PMCID: PMC3914563  PMID: 24282154
elderly; implementation; quality improvement

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