Research Article

Effects of preventive home visits to elderly people.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 03 July 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:27
  1. E van Rossum,
  2. C M Frederiks,
  3. H Philipsen,
  4. K Portengen,
  5. J Wiskerke,
  6. P Knipschild
  1. University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


    OBJECTIVES--To assess the effect of preventive home visits by public health nurses on the state of health of and use of services by elderly people living at home. DESIGN--Randomised controlled trial. SETTING--General population of elderly people in one of the southern regions of the Netherlands. SUBJECTS--580 subjects aged between 75 and 84 years randomly allocated to intervention (292) or control (288) group. INTERVENTIONS--Four visits a year over three years in intervention group. Control group received no home visits. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Self rated health, functional state, well being, loneliness, aspects of the mental state (depressive complaints, memory disturbances), and mortality. Use of services and costs. RESULTS--Visits had no effect on the health of the subjects. In the group visited no higher scores were seen on health related measures, fewer died (42 (14%) v 50 (17%)), and community care increased slightly. In the control group more were referred to outpatient clinics (166 (66%) v 132 (55%)), and they had a 40% increased risk of admission (incidence rate ratio 1.4; 90% confidence interval 1.2 to 1.6). No differences were found in long term institutional care, and overall expenditure per person in the intervention group exceeded that in the control group by 4%. Additional analyses showed that visits were effective for subjects who initially rated their health as poor. CONCLUSIONS--Preventive home visits are not beneficial for the general population of elderly people living at home but might be effective when restricted to subjects with poor health.