Patient-centered approach to building problem solving skills among older primary care patients: problems identified and resolved

J Gerontol Soc Work. 2011 Apr;54(3):276-91. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2011.552939.


This article describes problems identified by older primary care patients enrolled in Problem Solving Therapy (PST), and explores factors associated with successful problem resolution. PST patients received 1 to 8, 45-min sessions with a social worker. Patients identified problems in their lives and directed the focus of subsequent sessions as consistent with the steps of PST. The 107 patients identified 568 problems, 59% of which were resolved. Most commonly identified problems included health related issues such as need for exercise or weight loss activities, medical care and medical equipment needs, home and garden maintenance, and gathering information on their medical condition. Problems identified by patients were 2.2 times more likely to be solved than those identified by a health care professional. Using PST in primary care may facilitate patients in addressing key health and wellness issues.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology
  • Health Services for the Aged / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Education as Topic* / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic* / organization & administration
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Patient-Centered Care / standards
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Problem Solving*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Self Care* / methods
  • Self Care* / psychology
  • Social Work / organization & administration*