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1.  Pneumonia severity, comorbidity and 1-year mortality in predominantly older adults with community-acquired pneumonia: a cohort study 
In patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), short-term mortality is largely dependent on pneumonia severity, whereas long-term mortality is considered to depend on comorbidity. However, evidence indicates that severity scores used to assist management decisions at disease onset may also be associated with long-term mortality. Therefore, the objective of the study was to investigate the performance of the pneumonia severity scores CURB-65 and CRB-65 compared to the Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) for predicting 1-year mortality in adults discharged from hospital after inpatient treatment for CAP.
From a single centre, all cases of patients with CAP treated consecutively as inpatients between 2005 and 2009 and surviving at least 30 days after admission were analysed. The patients’ vital status was obtained from the relevant local register office. CURB-65, CRB-65 and CCI were compared using receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis.
Of 498 cases analysed, 106 (21.3%) patients died within 1 year. In univariate analysis, age ≥65 years, nursing home residency, hemiplegia, dementia and congestive heart failure were significantly associated with mortality. CURB-65, CRB-65 and CCI were also all associated with mortality at 1 year. ROC analysis yielded a weak, yet comparable test performance for CURB-65 (AUC and corresponding 95% confidence interval [CI] for risk categories: 0.652 [0.598-0.706]) and CCI (AUC [CI]: 0.631 [0.575-0.688]; for CRB-65 0.621 [0.565-0.677] and 0.590 [0.533-0.646]).
Neither CURB-65 or CRB-65 nor CCI allow excellent discrimination in terms of predicting longer term mortality. However, CURB-65 is significantly associated with long-term mortality and performed equally to the CCI in this respect. This fact may help to identify CAP survivors at higher risk after discharge from hospital.
PMCID: PMC4304774  PMID: 25566688
2.  The Ariadne principles: how to handle multimorbidity in primary care consultations 
BMC Medicine  2014;12(1):223.
Multimorbidity is a health issue mostly dealt with in primary care practice. As a result of their generalist and patient-centered approach, long-lasting relationships with patients, and responsibility for continuity and coordination of care, family physicians are particularly well placed to manage patients with multimorbidity. However, conflicts arising from the application of multiple disease oriented guidelines and the burden of diseases and treatments often make consultations challenging. To provide orientation in decision making in multimorbidity during primary care consultations, we developed guiding principles and named them after the Greek mythological figure Ariadne. For this purpose, we convened a two-day expert workshop accompanied by an international symposium in October 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany. Against the background of the current state of knowledge presented and discussed at the symposium, 19 experts from North America, Europe, and Australia identified the key issues of concern in the management of multimorbidity in primary care in panel and small group sessions and agreed upon making use of formal and informal consensus methods. The proposed preliminary principles were refined during a multistage feedback process and discussed using a case example. The sharing of realistic treatment goals by physicians and patients is at the core of the Ariadne principles. These result from i) a thorough interaction assessment of the patient’s conditions, treatments, constitution, and context; ii) the prioritization of health problems that take into account the patient’s preferences – his or her most and least desired outcomes; and iii) individualized management realizes the best options of care in diagnostics, treatment, and prevention to achieve the goals. Goal attainment is followed-up in accordance with a re-assessment in planned visits. The occurrence of new or changed conditions, such as an increase in severity, or a changed context may trigger the (re-)start of the process. Further work is needed on the implementation of the formulated principles, but they were recognized and appreciated as important by family physicians and primary care researchers.
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Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-014-0223-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4259090  PMID: 25484244
Comorbidity; Decision making; General practice; Goal-oriented care; Multimorbidity; Patient-centered care; Patient care planning; Patient preference; Primary care
3.  External validation of the CURSI criteria (confusion, urea, respiratory rate and shock index) in adults hospitalised for community-acquired pneumonia 
For patients hospitalised due to community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), mortality risk is usually estimated with prognostic scores such as CRB-65 or CURB-65. For elderly patients, a new score referred to as CURSI has been proposed which uses shock index (SI) instead of the blood pressure (B) and age (65) criteria. The new score has not been externally validated to date.
We used data from a hospital-based CAP registry to compare the ability of CURSI, CURB-65 and CRB-65 to predict mortality at day 30 after hospital admission. Patients were stratified by score points as well as score-point-based risk categories, and mortality for each group was assessed. To compare test performance, receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves were constructed, and the areas under the curve (AUROC) were calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CI).
We analysed 553 inpatients (45% females, median age 78 years) hospitalised between 2005 and 2009 for CAP. Overall, mortality at day 30 was 11% (59/553). The study sample was characterised by advanced comorbidity (chronic heart failure: 22%, chronic kidney failure: 27%) and functional impairment (nursing home residency: 26%, dementia: 31%). All risk scores were significantly associated with 30-day mortality. The AUROC values with 95% CI using score points for risk prediction were as follows: 0.63 [0.56-0.71] for CRB-65, 0.68 [0.61-0.75] for CURB-65 and 0.68 [0.61-0.75] for CURSI. The CURSI-defined low-risk group (0 or 1 score point) had a higher mortality (8%) than the low-risk groups defined by CURB-65 and CRB-65 (4% and 3%, respectively). Lowering the cut-off for the CURSI-defined low-risk group (0 point only) would lower the mortality to 4%, making it comparable to the CURB-65-defined low-risk group.
In our study, the CURSI-defined low-risk group had a higher 30-day mortality than the low-risk groups defined by CURB-65 and CRB-65. Lowering the cut-off value for the CURSI low-risk group would result in a mortality comparable to the CURB-65-defined low risk group. Even then, however, CURSI does not perform better than the established risk scores.
PMCID: PMC3901892  PMID: 24447823
Community-acquired pneumonia; Pneumonia severity; CURB-65; CRB-65; CURSI; Risk assessment; Mortality; Elderly; Inpatients
4.  Falls and EQ-5D rated quality of life in community-dwelling seniors with concurrent chronic diseases: a cross-sectional study 
Although recommended for use in studies investigating falls in the elderly, the European Quality of Life Group instrument, EQ-5D, has not been widely used to assess the impact of falls on quality of life. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of single and frequent falls with EQ-5D rated quality of life in a sample of German community-dwelling seniors in primary care suffering a variety of concurrent chronic diseases and conditions.
In a cross-sectional study, a sample of community-dwelling seniors aged ≥ 72 years was interviewed by means of a standardised telephone interview. According to the number of self-reported falls within twelve months prior to interview, participants were categorised into one of three fall categories: no fall vs. one fall vs. two or more falls within twelve months. EQ-5D values as well as other characteristics were compared across the fall categories. Adjustments for a variety of concurrent chronic diseases and conditions and further variables were made by using multiple linear regression analysis, with EQ-5D being the target variable.
In total, 1,792 participants (median age 77 years; 53% female) were analysed. The EQ-5D differed between fall categories. Participants reporting no fall had a mean EQ-5D score of 81.1 (standard deviation [s.d.]: 15.4, median: 78.3), while participants reporting one fall (n = 265; 14.8%) and participants with two or more falls (n = 117; 6.5%) had mean total scores of 77.0 (s.d.: 15.8, median: 78.3; mean difference to participants without a fall: -4.1, p < 0.05) and 72.1 (s.d.: 17.6, median: 72.5; mean difference: -9.0, p < 0.05), respectively. The mean difference between participants with one fall and participants with two or more falls was -4.9 (p < 0.05). Under adjustment for a variety of chronic diseases and conditions, the mean decrease in the total EQ-5D score was about -1.0 score point for one fall and about -2.5 points for two or more falls within twelve months. In quantity, this decrease is comparable to other chronic diseases adjusted for. Among the variables with the greatest negative association with EQ-5D ratings in multivariate analysis were depression and fear of falling.
The findings suggest that falls are negatively associated with EQ-5D rated quality of life independent of a variety of chronic diseases and conditions.
PMCID: PMC3895701  PMID: 24400663
Falls; Accidental falls; Fear of falling; Multiple chronic diseases; Quality of life; EQ-5D; Elderly; Cross-sectional study
5.  Reliability of accelerometric measurement of physical activity in older adults-the benefit of using the trimmed sum 
There is general consensus that physical activity is important for preserving functional capacities of older adults and positively influencing quality of life. While accelerometry is widely accepted and applied to assess physical activity in studies, several problems with this method remain (e.g., low retest reliability, measurement errors). The aim of this study was to test the intra-instrumental retest reliability of a wrist-worn accelerometer in a 3-day measurement of physical activity in older adults and to compare different estimators. A sample of 123 older adults (76.5 ± 5.1 years, 59 % female) wore a uniaxial accelerometer continuously for 1 week. The data were split into two repeated measurement values (week set) of 3 days each. The sum, the 80–99th quantiles and the 80–99th trimmed sums were built for each week set. Retest reliability was assessed for each estimator and graphically demonstrated by Bland–Altman plots. The intraclass correlation of the retest reliability ranged from 0.22 to 0.91. Retest reliability increases when a more robust estimator than the overall sum is used. Therefore, the trimmed sum can be recommended as a conservative estimate of the physical activity level of older adults.
PMCID: PMC3459084  PMID: 23144665
Aged; Reproducibility of results; Activities of daily living; Bias (epidemiology)
6.  General practitioner advice on physical activity: Analyses in a cohort of older primary health care patients (getABI) 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:26.
Although the benefits of physical activity for health and functioning are recognized to extend throughout life, the physical activity level of most older people is insufficient with respect to current guidelines. The primary health care setting may offer an opportunity to influence and to support older people to become physically active on a regular basis. Currently, there is a lack of data concerning general practitioner (GP) advice on physical activity in Germany. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the rate and characteristics of older patients receiving advice on physical activity from their GP.
This is a cross-sectional study using data collected at 7 years of follow-up of a prospective cohort study (German epidemiological trial on ankle brachial index, getABI). 6,880 unselected patients aged 65 years and above in the primary health care setting in Germany were followed up since October 2001. During the 7-year follow-up telephone interview, 1,937 patients were asked whether their GP had advised them to get regular physical activity within the preceding 12 months. The interview also included questions on socio-demographic and lifestyle variables, medical conditions, and physical activity. Logistic regression analysis (unadjusted and adjusted for all covariables) was used to examine factors associated with receiving advice. Analyses comprised only complete cases with regard to the analysed variables. Results are expressed as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Of the 1,627 analysed patients (median age 77; range 72-93 years; 52.5% women), 534 (32.8%) stated that they had been advised to get regular physical activity. In the adjusted model, those more likely to receive GP advice on physical activity were men (OR [95% CI] 1.34 [1.06-1.70]), patients suffering from pain (1.43 [1.13-1.81]), coronary heart disease and/or myocardial infarction (1.56 [1.21-2.01]), diabetes mellitus (1.79 [1.39-2.30]) or arthritis (1.37 [1.08-1.73]), and patients taking a high (> 5) number of medications (1.41 [1.11-1.80]).
The study revealed a relatively low rate of older primary health care patients receiving GP advice on physical activity. GPs appeared to focus their advice on patients with chronic medical conditions. However, there are likely to be many more patients who would benefit from advice.
PMCID: PMC3115873  PMID: 21569227
aged; physical activity; family physicians; primary health care; chronic disease; public health
7.  Bone T-Scores and Functional Status: A Cross-Sectional Study on German Elderly 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8216.
We explore the association between bone T-scores, used in osteoporosis diagnosis, and functional status since we hypothesized that bone health can impact elderly functional status and indirectly independence.
In a cross-sectional study (2005–2006) on community dwelling elderly (> = 75 years) from Herne, Germany we measured bone T-scores with Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry, and functional status indexed by five geriatric tests: activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, test of dementia, geriatric depression score and the timed-up-and-go test, and two pooled indexes: raw and standardized. Generalized linear regression was used to determine the relationship between T-scores and functional status.
From 3243 addresses, only 632 (19%) completed a clinical visit, of which only 440 (male∶female, 243∶197) could be included in analysis. T-scores (−0.99, 95% confidence interval [CI], −1.1–0.9) predicted activities of daily living (95.3 CI, 94.5–96.2), instrumental activities of daily living (7.3 CI, 94.5–96.2), and timed-up-and-go test (10.7 CI, 10.0–11.3) (P< = 0.05). Pooled data showed that a unit improvement in T-score improved standardized pooled functional status (15 CI, 14.7–15.3) by 0.41 and the raw (99.4 CI, 97.8–101.0) by 2.27 units. These results were limited due to pooling of different scoring directions, selection bias, and a need to follow-up with evidence testing.
T-scores associated with lower functional status in community-dwelling elderly. Regular screening of osteoporosis as a preventive strategy might help maintain life quality with aging.
PMCID: PMC2784940  PMID: 20011039

Results 1-7 (7)