Research Article

Old people not known to the general practitioner: low risk group.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 27 July 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:251
  1. E S Williams,
  2. N H Barley


    The elderly patients in a large general practice aged 75 and over who lived at home (n = 877) were divided into two groups according to the general practitioner's knowledge of their risk status and were designated "risk status known" (n = 679) and "risk status not known" (n = 198). Forty-three high risk patients in the risk status known group had a functional disability score and experience of mortality that was not dissimilar to those of elderly people in institutions. The medical and social characteristics of a random sample (n = 150) of the risk status known group, after excluding the high risk patients, were compared with the risk status not known group using a Barber Wallis questionnaire. A response rate of 90% was achieved from both groups and a cumulative risk score was calculated by totalling unfavourable replies to the questions. The risk status not known group, which comprised 14% of the patients who lived at home after correcting for the number who had died and moved, had appreciably less contact with the general practitioners, had an appreciably lower cumulative risk score, were confined at home less because of ill health, were less concerned about their health, and were less in need of nursing attention. The findings of this study suggest that the elderly patients who are not known to their general practitioners are in relatively good health when compared with the patients that the general practitioner knows well.