Background: To explore effects of a health risk appraisal for older people (HRA-O) program with reinforcement, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in 21 general practices in Hamburg, Germany.
Methods: Overall, 2,580 older patients of 14 general practitioners trained in reinforcing recommendations related to HRA-O-identified risk factors were randomized into intervention (n = 878) and control (n = 1,702) groups. Patients (n = 746) of seven additional matched general practitioners who did not receive this training served as a comparison group. Patients allocated to the intervention group, and their general practitioners, received computer-tailored written recommendations, and patients were offered the choice between interdisciplinary group sessions (geriatrician, physiotherapist, social worker, and nutritionist) and home visits (nurse).
Results: Among the intervention group, 580 (66%) persons made use of personal reinforcement (group sessions: 503 [87%], home visits: 77 [13%]). At 1-year follow-up, persons in the intervention group had higher use of preventive services (eg, influenza vaccinations, adjusted odds ratio 1.7; 95% confidence interval 1.4-2.1) and more favorable health behavior (eg, high fruit/fiber intake, odds ratio 2.0; 95% confidence interval 1.6-2.6), as compared with controls. Comparisons between intervention and comparison group data revealed similar effects, suggesting that physician training alone had no effect. Subgroup analyses indicated favorable effects for HRA-O with personal reinforcement, but not for HRA-O without reinforcement.
Conclusions: HRA-O combined with physician training and personal reinforcement had favorable effects on preventive care use and health behavior.