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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.  The influence of age on health valuations: the older olds prefer functional independence while the younger olds prefer less morbidity 
Clinical Interventions in Aging  2015;10:1131-1139.
To assess the effectiveness of geriatric interventions, The Older Persons and Informal Caregivers Survey – Composite Endpoint (TOPICS-CEP) has been developed based on health valuations of older persons and informal caregivers. This study explored the influence of the raters’ age on the preference weights of TOPICS-CEP’s components.
A vignette study was conducted with 200 raters (mean age ± standard deviation: 72.5±11.8 years; 66.5% female). Profiles of older persons were used to obtain the preference weights for all TOPICS-CEP components: morbidity, functional limitations, emotional well-being, pain experience, cognitive functioning, social functioning, self-perceived health, and self-perceived quality of life. The raters assessed the general wellbeing of these vignettes on a 0–10 scale. Mixed linear regression analysis with interaction terms was used to explore the effects of raters’ age on the preference weights.
Interaction effects between age and the TOPICS-CEP components showed that older raters gave significantly (P<0.05) more weight to functional limitations and social functioning and less to morbidities and pain experience, compared to younger raters.
Researchers examining effectiveness in elderly care need to consider the discrepancies between health valuations of younger olds and older olds when selecting or establishing outcome measures. In clinical decision making, health care professionals need to be aware of this discrepancy as well. For this reason we highly recommend shared decision making in geriatric care.
PMCID: PMC4501683  PMID: 26185432
general wellbeing; preferences; valuation; domains; composite endpoint; age
4.  Establishing a composite endpoint for measuring the effectiveness of geriatric interventions based on older persons’ and informal caregivers’ preference weights: a vignette study 
BMC Geriatrics  2014;14:51.
The Older Persons and Informal Caregivers Survey Minimal Dataset’s (TOPICS-MDS) questionnaire which measures relevant outcomes for elderly people was successfully incorporated into over 60 research projects of the Dutch National Care for the Elderly Programme. A composite endpoint (CEP) for this instrument would be helpful to compare effectiveness of the various intervention projects. Therefore, our aim is to establish a CEP for the TOPICS-MDS questionnaire, based on the preferences of elderly persons and informal caregivers.
A vignette study was conducted with 200 persons (124 elderly and 76 informal caregivers) as raters. The vignettes described eight TOPICS-MDS outcomes of older persons (morbidity, functional limitations, emotional well-being, pain experience, cognitive functioning, social functioning, self-perceived health and self-perceived quality of life) and the raters assessed the general well-being (GWB) of these vignette cases on a numeric rating scale (0–10). Mixed linear regression analyses were used to derive the preference weights of the TOPICS-MDS outcomes (dependent variable: GWB scores; fixed factors: the eight outcomes; unstandardized coefficients: preference weights).
The mixed regression model that combined the eight outcomes showed that the weights varied from 0.01 for social functioning to 0.16 for self-perceived health. A model that included “informal caregiver” showed that the interactions between this variable and each of the eight outcomes were not significant (p > 0.05).
A preference-weighted CEP for TOPICS-MDS questionnaire was established based on the preferences of older persons and informal caregivers. With this CEP optimal comparing the effectiveness of interventions in older persons can be realized.
PMCID: PMC4021341  PMID: 24742136
Composite endpoint; Preference-weighted; Elderly persons; Informal caregivers; Effectiveness; Geriatric interventions
5.  Development of an instrument for the identification of frail older people as a target population for integrated care 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(608):e225-e231.
Primary care is increasingly interested in the identification of frailty, as it selects the target population for integrated care. However, instruments for the identification of frailty specifically validated for use in primary care are scarce. This study developed the Easycare Two-step Older persons Screening (Easycare-TOS), which provides a valid, efficient, and pragmatic screening procedure to identify frail older people.
This paper aims to describe the development of the Easycare-TOS and the data from the pilot studies.
Design and setting
Observational pilot study in seven academic GP practices in and around Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
The Easycare-TOS was developed in a cyclic process with the input of stakeholders. In every cycle, the requirements were first defined, then translated into a prototype that was tested in a pilot study. The Easycare-TOS makes optimal use of prior knowledge of the GP, and the professionals’ appraisal is decisive in the frailty decision, instead of a cut-off score. Further, it considers aspects of frailty, as well as aspects of the care context of the patient.
The pilot data have shown that after step 1, two-thirds of the patients do not need further assessment, because they are judged as not frail, based on prior knowledge of the GP. The overall prevalence of frailty in this pilot study is 24%. Most professionals who participated in the pilot studies considered the time investment acceptable and the method to be of added value.
The Easycare-TOS instrument meets the predefined efficiency, flexibility, and acceptability requirements for use as an identification instrument for frailty in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3582982  PMID: 23561790
delivery of health care, integrated; efficiency; feasibility studies; frail elderly; primary health care
6.  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
7.  Implementation of an innovative web-based conference table for community-dwelling frail older people, their informal caregivers and professionals: a process evaluation 
Due to fragmentation of care, continuity of care is often limited in the care provided to frail older people. Further, frail older people are not always enabled to become involved in their own care. Therefore, we developed the Health and Welfare Information Portal (ZWIP), a shared Electronic Health Record combined with a communication tool for community-dwelling frail older people and primary care professionals. This article describes the process evaluation of its implementation, and aims to establish (1) the outcomes of the implementation process, (2) which implementation strategies and barriers and facilitators contributed to these outcomes, and (3) how its future implementation could be improved.
Mixed methods study, consisting of (1) a survey among professionals (n = 118) and monitoring the use of the ZWIP by frail older people and professionals, followed by (2) semi-structured interviews with purposively selected professionals (n = 12).
290 frail older people and 169 professionals participated in the ZWIP. At the end of the implementation period, 55% of frail older people and informal caregivers, and 84% of professionals had logged on to their ZWIP at least once. For professionals, the exposure to the implementation strategies was generally as planned, they considered the interprofessional educational program and the helpdesk very important strategies. However, frail older people’s exposure to the implementation strategies was less than intended. Facilitators for the ZWIP were the perceived need to enhance interprofessional collaboration and the ZWIP application being user-friendly. Barriers included the low computer-literacy of frail older people, a preference for personal communication and limited use of the ZWIP by other professionals and frail older people. Interviewees recommended using the ZWIP for other target populations as well and adding further strategies that may help frail older people to feel more comfortable with computers and the ZWIP.
This study describes the implementation process of an innovative e-health intervention for community-dwelling frail older people, informal caregivers and primary care professionals. As e-health is an important medium for overcoming fragmentation of healthcare and facilitating patient involvement, but its adoption in everyday practice remains a challenge, the positive results of this implementation are promising.
PMCID: PMC3470954  PMID: 22894654
E-health; Implementation; Process evaluation; Frail older people; Primary care
8.  The design of the Dutch EASYcare study: a randomised controlled trial on the effectiveness of a problem-based community intervention model for frail elderly people [NCT00105378] 
Because of their complex clinical presentations and needs frail elderly people require another approach than people who age without many complications. Several inpatient geriatric health services have proven effectiveness in frail persons. However, the wish to live independently and policies that promote independent living as an answer to population aging call for community intervention models for frail elderly people. Maybe models such as preventive home visits, comprehensive geriatric assessment, and intermediate care qualify, but their efficacy is controversial, especially in frail elderly persons living in the community. With the Dutch EASYcare Study Geriatric Intervention Programme (DGIP) we developed a model to study effectiveness of problem based community intervention models in frail elderly people.
DGIP is a community intervention model for frail elderly persons where the GP refers elderly patients with a problem in cognition, mood, behaviour, mobility, and nutrition. A geriatric specialist nurse applies a guideline-based intervention with a limited number of follow up visits. The intervention starts with the application of the EASYcare instrument for geriatric screening. The EASYcare instrument assesses (instrumental) activities of daily life, cognition, mood, and includes a goal setting item. During the intervention the nurse regularly consults the referring GP and a geriatrician. Effects on functional performance (Groningen Activity Restriction Scale), health related quality of life (MOS-20), and carer burden (Zarit Burden Interview) are studied in an observer blinded randomised controlled trial. 151 participants were randomised over two treatment arms – DGIP and regular care – using pseudo cluster randomisation. We are currently performing the follow up visits. These visits are planned three and six months after inclusion. Process measures and cost measures will be recorded. Intention to treat analyses will focus on post intervention differences between treatment groups.
The design of a trial evaluating the effects of a community intervention model for frail elderly people was presented. The problem-based participant selection procedure satisfied; few patients that the GP referred did not meet our eligibility criteria. The use of standard terminology makes detailed insight into the contents of our intervention possible using terminology others can understand well.
PMCID: PMC1298295  PMID: 16207382

Results 1-8 (8)