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Am J Prev Med. 1994 Jul-Aug;10(4):223-9.

Health promotion and disease prevention for older adults: opportunity for change or preaching to the converted?

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles 90024-1772.


Health promotion and disease prevention for the elderly offer the potential for improving the quality of life for the growing population of older adults, while reducing the economic burden on the health system. Whether this potential can be realized depends, in part, on whether those older adults whose health behaviors put them at risk actually use preventive services when offered the opportunity. In 1988 the Health Care Financing Administration began a series of health promotion demonstrations to address health issues related to older adults. This article reports on program participation at one of the five demonstration sites. Over 1,900 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries who receive their health care through fee-for-service providers were enrolled in the demonstration. These enrollees were randomly assigned to control and experimental groups, with the latter offered health screening and promotion services. Nine hundred-seventy-three of the experimental subjects and 938 of the control subjects completed a lengthy telephone interview, which determined each person's use of preventive services and practices. Although all 973 experimental subjects were invited by letter and follow-up telephone calls to attend these free-of-charge, Medicare-provided sessions, not everyone attended. We analyzed 17 health behaviors of those who attended the first session and those who did not. Those engaging in these preventive behaviors were neither more nor less likely to attend the screening services. Thus, we found neither "favorable" nor "unfavorable" selection bias in the use of these preventive services.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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