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Arch Intern Med. 2004 Nov 22;164(21):2321-4.

The burden of symptoms among community-dwelling older persons with advanced chronic disease.

Author information

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. 06504, USA. lisa.walke@yale.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Little is known about the frequency and range of symptoms experienced by community-dwelling older persons with advanced chronic disease who are not enrolled in hospice. The objectives of our study were to determine (1) the prevalence of a range of symptoms among older persons with advanced chronic disease and (2) whether the prevalence of symptoms is similar across diagnoses.

METHODS:

This was a cross-sectional study of the symptoms reported by 226 community-dwelling persons 60 years or older with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer, or congestive heart failure (CHF). Symptoms were assessed using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System.

RESULTS:

Virtually all participants (86%) experienced at least 1 symptom that rated moderate or severe, and most (69%) experienced 2 or more symptoms. The symptoms reported by the greatest proportion of participants were limited activity (61%), fatigue (47%), and physical discomfort (38%). Participants with COPD had a higher unadjusted mean +/- SD number of moderate or severe symptoms (3.3 +/- 2.1) than did participants with cancer (2.6 +/- 1.8; P = .03) or CHF (2.0 +/- 1.7; P<.001). After we adjusted for sociodemographic factors, compared with participants with CHF, participants with cancer experienced 38% (95% confidence interval, 9%-75%) more moderate or severe symptoms and participants with COPD experienced 71% (95% confidence interval, 37%-114%) more moderate or severe symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most community-dwelling older persons with advanced COPD, cancer, or CHF experienced multiple moderate or severe symptoms. The clinical care of community-dwelling older persons with advanced chronic illnesses would be enhanced by the identification and alleviation of the range of symptoms they experience.

PMID:
15557410
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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