An in-home preventive assessment program for independent older adults: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1994 Jun;42(6):630-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1994.tb06862.x.


Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of in-home geriatric assessments as a means of providing preventive health care and improving health and functional status of community-living elderly veterans.

Design: Randomized controlled trial with 1-year follow-up.

Setting: Home visits performed in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Participants: Community-living veterans 70 years and older not currently receiving health care at the Sepulveda VA Medical Center (n = 131 intervention; 123 controls).

Intervention: A home visit by a physician's assistant or nurse, to screen for medical, functional and psychosocial problems, followed by a letter describing findings and recommendations, and follow-up visits by trained volunteers at 4-month intervals for 1 year. Controls received only telephone interviews at 4-month intervals to collect outcome data.

Measurements: Compliance with recommendations was studied for the intervention group. Outcome comparisons between the two groups included: mortality, medication usage, functional status, immunization rates, and nursing home and hospital utilization.

Main results: A mean of four new or suboptimally treated problems was identified for intervention subjects. Subjects complied with 76% of recommendations to see a physician or initiate a specific health practice. At 12-month follow-up, intervention subjects had significantly increased their immunization rates (P < 0.001) and had a significantly increased likelihood of having a primary care physician (P < 0.05). Twelve-month functional status (IADL) scores were significantly higher for intervention subjects than for controls; intervention subjects maintained their functional status, while controls experienced significant decline during the follow-up year (P < 0.05). Non-prescription drug use increased significantly among controls, but not among intervention subjects (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: A brief geriatric screening assessment performed in the home can detect unrecognized and treatable problems, even among relatively healthy older adults. The use of trained volunteers is a feasible strategy for providing health education and follow-up contacts. These results support the concept that preventive gerontological approaches can help maintain important aspects of health and function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Preventive Health Services / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Veterans*
  • Volunteers