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Age Ageing. 1997 May;26(3):223-31.

The performance of simple instruments in detecting geriatric conditions and selecting community-dwelling older people for geriatric assessment.

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  • 1Division of Family Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine 90095-1683, USA.



comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) appears to be less effective when performed in outpatient clinics than in hospital settings. The effectiveness of outpatient CGA might be improved by selectively targeting frailer community-dwelling elderly people. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical performance of rapidly-administered standard screening measures for geriatric syndromes in selecting community-dwelling older people for outpatient CGA.


urban-dwelling older people were screened for CGA at community sites using a self-administered questionnaire containing standardized measures for each of four geriatric target conditions: depression, urinary incontinence, falls and functional impairment. The study sample included all 150 consecutive subjects who were screened, failed on one or more of the four target criteria and completed community-based, academically administered CGA. Diagnostic accuracy of the screening instruments was assessed using CGA diagnoses as the 'gold standard'. In addition, patients' potential for benefiting from CGA was determined by whether they received major medical recommendations for further evaluation or treatment.


after completing CGA, 60.2% of those failing on functional impairment, 53.5% of those failing on depression, 30.7% of those failing on falls and 92.7% of those on urinary incontinence, were confirmed as having these or highly related conditions as clinical problems. Overall, 81.3% of the subjects completing CGA received the least one major recommendations for further medical intervention; most of these recommendations (79.5%) were for a target-related condition and the further remainder (20.5%) addressed another significant medical condition.


simple screening instruments used in community settings have variable degrees of accuracy, but may be markers for frailty and thus can identify older people likely to benefit from geriatric assessment.

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