Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Screening the elderly in the community: controlled trial of dependency surveillance using a questionnaire administered by volunteers.

British Medical Journal 1990; 300 doi: (Published 12 May 1990) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1990;300:1253
  1. G I Carpenter,
  2. G R Demopoulos
  1. St Paul's Hospital, Winchester, Hants.


    OBJECTIVE--To test the benefits of regular surveillance of the elderly at home using an activities of daily living questionnaire administered by volunteers. DESIGN--Randomised controlled study. PATIENTS--539 Subjects aged 75 and over from two general practices. INTERVENTION--All subjects were visited at the beginning and end of the study by volunteers, who completed a scored activity of daily living questionnaire. The study group were revisited at regular intervals. Individuals with an increase in score greater than 5 were referred to their general practitioners. All interactions with social services and health authorities were recorded for both groups. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Mortality, activity of daily living score, total number of days in institutions, geriatric and psychogeriatric service contacts, primary health care team contacts, use of community support services. RESULTS--The study group were admitted to hospital more often than the controls (335 occasions v 252), but the control group spent 33% more days in institutions, mainly in long term admissions to residential accommodation. The number of falls reported in the control group doubled (from 17 before the first interview to 36 before the last) and in the study group remained unchanged (12 before both interviews). The study group received community support services sooner than the control group. There was no difference between the groups in mortality or activity of daily living score. CONCLUSION--Regular visiting of old people at home by non-professional volunteers using a simple activity of daily living questionnaire is a practical way of identifying problems and initiating action for this group.