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Research Article

Assessment of patients aged over 75 in general practice.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 12 September 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:621
  1. J. Tremellen
  1. Wiltshire Family Health Services Authority, Trowbridge.


    OBJECTIVES--To evaluate the assessment scheme for people aged 75, to establish doctors' and nurses' views on the value of the assessment scheme, and to seek patients' opinions on elderly assessments. DESIGN--Data on the assessment process were collected from individual practices. Questionnaires were sent to doctors and practice nurses undertaking assessments and to a sample of elderly patients. SUBJECTS--31,565 patients aged 75 and over and all doctors registered with Wiltshire Family Health Services Authority, as well as practice nurses assessing elderly patients. A 2% random sample of elderly patients was selected to answer questions on patient satisfaction. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Numbers of patients accepting the invitation for assessment, who carried out the assessments and where, what unmet needs were identified, and by whom. RESULTS--20,192 patients (64%) accepted the assessment offer. Doctors carried out 8786 assessments and nurses 10,779. Although 12,317 (61%) were carried out in the home, nurses did most domiciliary assessments (7122/11,883). Nurses with extra qualifications identified the highest number of unmet needs (400/1000 visits). 155 of 228 (68%) doctors thought assessments unnecessary whereas 25 of 48 (52%) of nurses thought them important. 93% of patients found assessment useful. CONCLUSIONS--Doctors see no merit in the scheme; most undertake assessments opportunistically and pick up few new problems. Nurses who see it as important require further training to fit them to do home visits confidently. Patients who were assessed found it worth while. The case for developing a specialist community nurse for elderly people should be investigated.