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1.  Risk factors for depressed mood amongst a community dwelling older age population in England: cross-sectional survey data from the PRO-AGE study 
BMC Geriatrics  2014;14:5.
Background
The Quality and Outcomes Framework in the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service previously highlighted case finding of depression amongst patients with diabetes or coronary heart disease. However, depression in older people remains under-recognized. Comprehensive data for analyses of the association of depression in older age with other health and functional measures, and demographic factors from community populations within England, are lacking.
Methods
Secondary analyses of cross-sectional baseline survey data from the England arm of a randomised controlled trial of health risk appraisal for older people in Europe; PRO-AGE study. Data from 1085 community-dwelling non-disabled people aged 65 years or more from three group practices in suburban London contributed to this study. Depressed mood was ascertained from the 5-item Mental Health Inventory Screening test. Exploratory multivariable logistic regression was used to identify the strongest associations of depressed mood with a previous diagnosis of a specified physical/mental health condition, health and functional measures, and demographic factors.
Results
Depressed mood occurred in 14% (155/1085) of participants. A previous diagnoses of depression (OR 3.39; P < 0.001) and poor vision as determined from a Visual Function Questionnaire (OR 2.37; P = 0.001) were amongst the strongest factors associated with depressed mood that were independent of functional impairment, other co-morbidities, and demographic factors. A subgroup analyses on those without a previous diagnosis of depression also indicated that within this group, poor vision (OR 2.51; P = 0.002) was amongst the strongest independent factors associated with depressed mood.
Conclusions
Previous case-finding strategies in primary care focussed on heart disease and diabetes but health-related conditions other than coronary heart disease and diabetes are also associated with an increased risk for depression. Complex issues of multi-morbidity occur within aging populations. ‘Risk’ factors that appeared stronger than those, such as, diabetes and coronary heart disease that until recently prompted for screening in the UK due to the QOF, were identified, and independent of other morbidities associated with depressed mood. From the health and functional factors investigated, amongst the strongest factors associated with depressed mood was poor vision. Consideration to case finding for depressed mood among older people with visual impairment might be justified.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-14-5
PMCID: PMC3905671  PMID: 24450968
Case finding; Depression; Older people; Ageing; Vision loss
2.  Health risk appraisal in older people 6: factors associated with self-reported poor vision and uptake of eye tests in older people 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:130.
Background
Although free eye testing is available in the UK from a nation-wide network of optometrists, there is evidence of unrecognised, tractable vision loss amongst older people. A recent review identified this unmet need as a priority for further investigation, highlighting the need to understand public perceptions of eye services and barriers to service access and utilisation. This paper aims to identify risk factors for (1) having poor vision and (2) not having had an eyesight check among community-dwelling older people without an established ophthalmological diagnosis.
Methods
Secondary analysis of self-reported data from the ProAge trial. 1792 people without a known ophthalmological diagnosis were recruited from three group practices in London.
Results
Almost two in ten people in this population of older individuals without known ophthalmological diagnoses had self-reported vision loss, and more than a third of them had not had an eye test in the previous twelve months. In this sample, those with limited education, depressed mood, need for help with instrumental and basic activities of daily living (IADLs and BADLs), and subjective memory complaints were at increased risk of fair or poor self-reported vision. Individuals with basic education only were at increased risk for not having had an eye test in the previous 12 months (OR 1.52, 95% CI 1.17-1.98 p=0.002), as were those with no, or only one chronic condition (OR 1.850, 95% CI 1.382-2.477, p<0.001).
Conclusions
Self-reported poor vision in older people without ophthalmological diagnoses is associated with other functional losses, with no or only one chronic condition, and with depression. This pattern of disorders may be the basis for case finding in general practice. Low educational attainment is an independent determinant of not having had eye tests, as well as a factor associated with undiagnosed vision loss. There are other factors, not identified in this study, which determine uptake of eye testing in those with self-reported vision loss. Further exploration is needed to identify these factors and lead towards effective case finding.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-130
PMCID: PMC3766676  PMID: 24006949
Older people; Vision loss; General practice; Case finding; Educational level
3.  Biomarker-based score to predict mortality in persons aged 50 years and older: a new approach in the Swedish AMORIS study 
Background
Management of frailty is the cornerstone of geriatric medicine, but there remains a need to identify biomarkers that can predict early death, and thereby lead to effective clinical interventions. We aimed to study the combination of C-reactive protein (CRP), albumin, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), and HDL to predict mortality.
Methods
A total of 44,457 persons aged 50+ whose levels of CRP, albumin, GGT, and HDL were measured at baseline were selected from the Swedish Apolipoprotein MOrtality RISk (AMORIS) study. A mortality score, ranging from 0 to 4, was created by adding the number of markers with abnormal values according to the clinical cut-off (CRP > 10 mg/L, albumin < 35 mg/L, GGT > 36 kU/L, HDL < 1.04 mmol/L). Mortality was studied with multivariate Cox proportional hazards models.
Results
2,245 persons died from cancer, 3,276 from circulatory disease, and 1,860 from other causes. There was a positive trend between mortality score and all-cause mortality as well as cancer and circulatory disease-specific death (e.g. HR for all-cause mortality: 1.39 (95%CI: 1.32-1.46), 2.04 (1.89-2.21), and 3.36 (2.87-3.93), for score=1, 2, and 3+, compared to score=0). Among cancer patients with no other co-morbidities (n=1,955), there was a positive trend between the score and mortality (HR: 1.24 (95%CI: 1.0.-1.49), 2.38 (95%CI: 1.76-3.22), and 5.47 (95%CI: 2.98-10.03) for score=1, 2, and 3+ compared to score=0).
Conclusions
By combining biomarkers of different mechanisms contributing to patient frailty, we found a strong marker for mortality in persons aged 50+. Elevated risks among cancer patients with no other co-morbidities prior to biomarker assessment call for validation in other cohorts and testing of different combinations and cut-offs than those used here, in order to aid decision-making in treatment of older cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC3316450  PMID: 22493753
Frailty; mortality; albumin; HDL-cholesterol; C-reactive protein; gamma-glutamyltransferase
4.  The relationship between pain intensity and severity and depression in older people: exploratory study 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:54.
Background
Pain and depression are known to be associated in later life, and both have a negative effect on physical performance both separately and in combination. The nature of the relationships between pain intensity and depression in elderly persons experiencing pain is less clear. The objectives of this study were to explore which factors are associated with depressed mood in older people experiencing pain, and to test the hypothesis that older people experiencing pain are at risk of depressed mood according to the severity or frequency of their pain. In addition we explored whether other potentially modifiable factors might increase the risk of depressed mood in these persons.
Methods
The study is a secondary analysis of baseline data for four hundred and six community-dwelling non-disabled people aged 65 and over registered with three group practices in suburban London who had experienced pain in the past 4 weeks. Intensity and frequency of pain was measured using 24 item Geriatric Pain Measure (GPM) and the presence of depressive symptoms using the 5 item Mental Health Inventory. Risk for social isolation was measured using the 6 item Lubben Social Network scale and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) were also measured.
Results
Overall 76 (19%) had depressed mood. Pain frequency and severity were not statistically significantly associated with depressed mood in this population. In multivariate analyses, significant predictors of the presence of depressive symptoms were difficulties with basic ADLs (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.1.7.8), risk for social isolation (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.8–9.3), and basic education only (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.1–4.4).
Conclusion
Older people experiencing pain are also likely to experience depression. Among those experiencing pain, social network and functional status seem to be more important predictors of depressive symptoms than the severity of pain. Further studies should evaluate whether improvement of social network and functional status might reduce depressive symptoms in older patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-54
PMCID: PMC2724387  PMID: 19638205
5.  Health risk appraisal in older people 3: prevalence, impact, and context of pain and their implications for GPs 
Background
Pain is a common experience in later life. There is conflicting evidence of the prevalence, impact, and context of pain in older people. GPs are criticised for underestimating and under-treating pain.
Aim
To assess the extent to which older people experience pain, and to explore relationships between self-reported pain and functional ability and depression.
Design of study
Secondary analysis of baseline data from a randomised controlled trial of health risk appraisal.
Setting
A total of 1090 community-dwelling non-disabled people aged 65 years and over were included in the study from three group practices in suburban London.
Method
Main outcome measures were pain in the last 4 weeks and the impact of pain, measured using the 24-item Geriatric Pain Measure; depression symptoms captured using the 5-item Mental Health Inventory; social relationships measured using the 6-item Lubben Social Network Scale; Basic and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and self-reported symptoms.
Results
Forty-five per cent of women and 34% of men reported pain in the previous 4 weeks. Pain experience appeared to be less in the ‘oldest old’: 27.5% of those aged 85 years and over reported pain compared with 38–53% of the ‘younger old’. Those with arthritis were four times more likely to report pain. Pain had a profound impact on activities of daily living, but most of those reporting pain described their health as good or excellent. Although there was a significant association between the experience of pain and depressed mood, the majority of those reporting pain did not have depressed mood.
Conclusion
A multidimensional approach to assessing pain is appropriate. Primary care practitioners should also assess the impact of pain on activities of daily living.
PMCID: PMC2099668  PMID: 17688757
depression; functional ability; older people; pain
6.  Health risk appraisal in older people 2: the implications for clinicians and commissioners of social isolation risk in older people 
Background
Social isolation is associated with poorer health, and is seen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as one of the major issues facing the industrialised world.
Aim
To explore the significance of social isolation in the older population for GPs and for service commissioners.
Design of study
Secondary analysis of baseline data from a randomised controlled trial of health risk appraisal.
Setting
A total of 2641 community-dwelling, non-disabled people aged 65 years and over in suburban London.
Method
Demographic details, social network and risk for social isolation based on the 6-item Lubben Social Network Scale, measures of depressed mood, memory problems, numbers of chronic conditions, medication use, functional ability, self-reported use of medical services.
Results
More than 15% of the older age group were at risk of social isolation, and this risk increased with advancing age. In bivariate analyses risk of social isolation was associated with older age, education up to 16 years only, depressed mood and impaired memory, perceived fair or poor health, perceived difficulty with both basic and instrumental activities of daily living, diminishing functional ability, and fear of falling. Despite poorer health status, those at risk of social isolation did not appear to make greater use of medical services, nor were they at greater risk of hospital admission. Half of those who scored as at risk of social isolation lived with others. Multivariate analysis showed significant independent associations between risk of social isolation and depressed mood and living alone, and weak associations with male sex, impaired memory and perceived poor health.
Conclusion
The risk of social isolation is elevated in older men, older persons who live alone, persons with mood or cognitive problems, but is not associated with greater use of services. These findings would not support population screening for individuals at risk of social isolation with a view to averting service use by timely intervention. Awareness of social isolation should trigger further assessment, and consideration of interventions to alleviate social isolation, treat depression or ameliorate cognitive impairment.
PMCID: PMC2043334  PMID: 17394730
depression; elderly; screening; risk; service use; social isolation
7.  Health risk appraisal in older people 1: are older people living alone an ‘at-risk’ group? 
Background
In the UK, population screening for unmet need has failed to improve the health of older people. Attention is turning to interventions targeted at ‘at-risk’ groups. Living alone in later life is seen as a potential health risk, and older people living alone are thought to be an at-risk group worthy of further intervention.
Aim
To explore the clinical significance of living alone and the epidemiology of lone status as an at-risk category, by investigating associations between lone status and health behaviours, health status, and service use, in non-disabled older people.
Design of study
Secondary analysis of baseline data from a randomised controlled trial of health risk appraisal in older people.
Setting
Four group practices in suburban London.
Method
Sixty per cent of 2641 community-dwelling non-disabled people aged 65 years and over registered at a practice agreed to participate in the study; 84% of these returned completed questionnaires. A third of this group, (n = 860, 33.1%) lived alone and two-thirds (n = 1741, 66.9%) lived with someone else.
Results
Those living alone were more likely to report fair or poor health, poor vision, difficulties in instrumental and basic activities of daily living, worse memory and mood, lower physical activity, poorer diet, worsening function, risk of social isolation, hazardous alcohol use, having no emergency carer, and multiple falls in the previous 12 months. After adjustment for age, sex, income, and educational attainment, living alone remained associated with multiple falls, functional impairment, poor diet, smoking status, risk of social isolation, and three self-reported chronic conditions: arthritis and/or rheumatism, glaucoma, and cataracts.
Conclusion
Clinicians working with independently-living older people living alone should anticipate higher levels of disease and disability in these patients, and higher health and social risks, much of which will be due to older age, lower educational status, and female sex. Living alone itself appears to be associated with higher risks of falling, and constellations of pathologies, including visual loss and joint disorders. Targeted population screening using lone status may be useful in identifying older individuals at high risk of falling.
PMCID: PMC2043328  PMID: 17394729
accidental falls; elderly; risk; service use
8.  The PRO-AGE study: an international randomised controlled study of health risk appraisal for older persons based in general practice 
Background
This paper describes the study protocol, the recruitment, and base-line data for evaluating the success of randomisation of the PRO-AGE (PRevention in Older people – Assessment in GEneralists' practices) project.
Methods/Design
A group of general practitioners (GPs) in London (U.K.), Hamburg (Germany) and Solothurn (Switzerland) were trained in risk identification, health promotion, and prevention in older people. Their non-disabled older patients were invited to participate in a randomised controlled study. Participants allocated to the intervention group were offered the Health Risk Appraisal for Older Persons (HRA-O) instrument with a site-specific method for reinforcement (London: physician reminders in electronic medical record; Hamburg: one group session or two preventive home visits; Solothurn: six-monthly preventive home visits over a two-year period). Participants allocated to the control group received usual care. At each site, an additional group of GPs did not receive the training, and their eligible patients were invited to participate in a concurrent comparison group. Primary outcomes are self-reported health behaviour and preventative care use at one-year follow-up. In Solothurn, an additional follow-up was conducted at two years. The number of older persons agreeing to participate (% of eligible persons) in the randomised controlled study was 2503 (66.0%) in London, 2580 (53.6%) in Hamburg, and 2284 (67.5%) in Solothurn. Base-line findings confirm that randomisation of participants was successful, with comparable characteristics between intervention and control groups. The number of persons (% of eligible) enrolled in the concurrent comparison group was 636 (48.8%) in London, 746 (35.7%) in Hamburg, and 1171 (63.0%) in Solothurn.
Discussion
PRO-AGE is the first large-scale randomised controlled trial of health risk appraisal for older people in Europe. Its results will inform about the effects of implementing HRA-O with different methods of reinforcement.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-7-2
PMCID: PMC1783855  PMID: 17217546
9.  Development, feasibility and performance of a health risk appraisal questionnaire for older persons 
Background
Health risk appraisal is a promising method for health promotion and prevention in older persons. The Health Risk Appraisal for the Elderly (HRA-E) developed in the U.S. has unique features but has not been tested outside the United States.
Methods
Based on the original HRA-E, we developed a scientifically updated and regionally adapted multilingual Health Risk Appraisal for Older Persons (HRA-O) instrument consisting of a self-administered questionnaire and software-generated feed-back reports. We evaluated the practicability and performance of the questionnaire in non-disabled community-dwelling older persons in London (U.K.) (N = 1090), Hamburg (Germany) (N = 804), and Solothurn (Switzerland) (N = 748) in a sub-sample of an international randomised controlled study.
Results
Over eighty percent of invited older persons returned the self-administered HRA-O questionnaire. Fair or poor self-perceived health status and older age were correlated with higher rates of non-return of the questionnaire. Older participants and those with lower educational levels reported more difficulty in completing the HRA-O questionnaire as compared to younger and higher educated persons. However, even among older participants and those with low educational level, more than 80% rated the questionnaire as easy to complete. Prevalence rates of risks for functional decline or problems were between 2% and 91% for the 19 HRA-O domains. Participants' intention to change health behaviour suggested that for some risk factors participants were in a pre-contemplation phase, having no short- or medium-term plans for change. Many participants perceived their health behaviour or preventative care uptake as optimal, despite indications of deficits according to the HRA-O based evaluation.
Conclusion
The HRA-O questionnaire was highly accepted by a broad range of community-dwelling non-disabled persons. It identified a high number of risks and problems, and provided information on participants' intention to change health behaviour.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-7-1
PMCID: PMC1783663  PMID: 17217545
10.  How Do Older Persons Define Constipation? 
This study examined the relation between bowel-related symptoms and self-report of constipation in 10,875 subjects aged 60 years and over, who participated in the 1989 National Health Interview Survey. Subjects reporting constipation “always” or “mostly” over the past 12 months (n= 594) were compared with those who reported never having the symptom (n= 4,192). Straining (adjusted odds ratio 66.7; 95% confidence interval 31.5, 142.4) and hard bowel movements (25.6; 16.7, 38.7) were most strongly associated with self-report of constipation. These findings suggest that treatment for constipation in the older population should be directed as much or more at facilitating comfortable rectal evacuation, as increasing bowel movement frequency.
doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1997.12110.x
PMCID: PMC1497059  PMID: 9034948
constipation; aged; bowel movements; straining; rectal evacuation

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