Intended for healthcare professionals


Building evidence on chronic disease in old age

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 26 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:528

Standardised assessments and databases offer one way of building the evidence

  1. G I Carpenter, senior lecturer in health care of the elderly (,
  2. R Bernabei, director,
  3. J P Hirdes, director,
  4. V Mor, director,
  5. K Steel, director
  1. Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF
  2. Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia “Agostino Gemelli,” Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 00168 Rome, Italy
  3. Canadian Collaborating Centre InterRAI, Providence Centre, Scarborough, ON M2L 3G1, Canada
  4. Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA
  5. Homecare Institute, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ 07601, USA

    Evidence based medicine, clinical effectiveness, and performance indicators are the topics of the moment, but their applicability to frail elderly people in community and institutional settings is problematic because of insufficient relevant evidence. About 2-15% of the population aged over 65 of industrialised countries are residents in nursing homes and related facilities. These elderly people have multiple impairments and chronic diseases, features that generally exclude them from randomised controlled trials. There are, however, other methods that can be used to gather the evidence on which we can base our interventions for these older people.

    Standardised assessment measures go beyond diagnosis to include physical and psychosocial function and must be included in an evaluation of health care for older people. The creation of databases containing such data in conjunction with data on treatments could begin to fill the gaps of missing evidence. 1 2 Under certain conditions and for certain applications, research based on clinical databases has been favourably compared with …

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