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Br J Gen Pract. 1990 Mar;40(332):94-7.

Screening elderly people in primary care: a randomized controlled trial.

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Division of Community Medicine, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.


A randomized controlled trial was carried out to test the effectiveness of a screening programme carried out by nurses for elderly people aged 75 years and over in a general practice. A total of 151 people were randomly allocated to the test group and 145 to the control group. The test group received a home visit from a nurse at which an assessment lasting 45 minutes was made of: activities of daily living, social functioning, sensory functions, mental and emotional problems, current medical problems, blood pressure, urinalysis, haemoglobin level and compliance with medication. Both groups completed a selection of items from four health indices before and 20 months after the intervention. At follow up, the test group scored significantly better than the control group on a morale scale. However, this trial provided no evidence for better resolution of physical problems or finding activities of daily living easier in the test group compared with the control group. It is suggested that the main benefit of such a screening process is that the special attention and education provided improves adaptation to old age and awareness of the support systems available. The government has proposed an annual review of elderly people in their own home and this study suggests that the objectives of this scheme should be clarified.

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