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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28631. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028631. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Assessing quality of care of elderly patients using the ACOVE quality indicator set: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Medical Informatics, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Care of the elderly is recognized as an increasingly important segment of health care. The Assessing Care Of Vulnerable Elderly (ACOVE) quality indicators (QIs) were developed to assess and improve the care of elderly patients.


The purpose of this review is to summarize studies that assess the quality of care using QIs from or based on ACOVE, in order to evaluate the state of quality of care for the reported conditions.


We systematically searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL for English-language studies indexed by February 2010. Articles were included if they used any ACOVE QIs, or adaptations thereof, for assessing the quality of care. Included studies were analyzed and relevant information was extracted. We summarized the results of these studies, and when possible generated an overall conclusion about the quality of care as measured by ACOVE for each condition, in various settings, and for each QI.


Seventeen studies were included with 278 QIs (original, adapted or newly developed). The quality scores showed large variation between and within conditions. Only a few conditions showed a stable pass rate range over multiple studies. Overall, pass rates for dementia (interquartile range (IQR): 11%-35%), depression (IQR: 27%-41%), osteoporosis (IQR: 34%-43%) and osteoarthritis (IQR: 29-41%) were notably low. Medication management and use (range: 81%-90%), hearing loss (77%-79%) and continuity of care (76%-80%) scored higher than other conditions. Out of the 278 QIs, 141 (50%) had mean pass rates below 50% and 121 QIs (44%) had pass rates above 50%. Twenty-three percent of the QIs scored above 75%, and 16% scored below 25%.


Quality of care per condition varies markedly across studies. Although there has been much effort in improving the care for elderly patients in the last years, the reported quality of care according to the ACOVE indicators is still relatively low.

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