Feasible model for prevention of functional decline in older people: municipality-randomized, controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Apr;53(4):563-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53201.x.


Objectives: To investigate the effect of an educational program for preventive healthcare professionals in routine primary care on functional ability, nursing home admissions, and mortality in older adults.

Design: A prospective, controlled 3-year follow-up study (1999-2001) in primary care with randomization and intervention at the municipality level and outcomes measured at the individual level in two age cohorts.

Setting: Primary care.

Participants: Of 81 eligible municipalities in four counties, 34 agreed to participate. A total study population of 5,788 home-dwelling subjects aged 75 and 80 were asked to participate. Written consent was obtained from 4,060 persons (70.1%), of whom 2,104 were living in 17 intervention municipalities and 1,956 were living in 17 matched control municipalities.

Intervention: Intervention municipality visitors received ongoing education, and local general practitioners were introduced to a short geriatric assessment program early in the study period. Control municipalities visitors and general practitioners received no education.

Measurements: At the 3-year follow-up, the outcome measures of mortality and nursing home admissions were obtained from all, and the outcome measure of functional ability was obtained from 3,383 (95.6%) of 3,540 surviving participants.

Results: Education improved functional ability (odds ratio=1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.01-1.42, P=.04) in intervention municipality participants, notably in the 80-year-olds. There were no differences in mortality (relative risk (RR)=1.06, 95% CI=0.87-1.28, P=.59) or rates of nursing home admissions after 3 years (RR=0.74, 95% CI=0.50-1.09, P=.13). Subjects aged 80 benefited from accepting and receiving in-home assessment with regular follow-ups.

Conclusion: A brief, feasible educational program for primary care professionals helps preserve older people's functional ability.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Nursing / education*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies