Feasibility study of goal setting discussions between older adults and volunteers facilitated by an eHealth application: development of the Health TAPESTRY approach
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Background: In keeping with the changing needs of the Canadian population, primary care systems need to become more person-focused in providing quality care to older adults. As part of Health TAPESTRY, a complex intervention to strengthen primary care for older adults, a goal setting exercise was developed and tested in an initial feasibility study, intended to foster collaboration between patients and providers. Methods: Participants-clinic clients-were recruited from the McMaster Family Health Team in Hamilton, Ontario. Five participants took part in the goal setting feasibility study phase I, which tested the functionality of a technology-enabled goal setting exercise between older adults and volunteers. Based on observations and feedback from volunteers, interprofessional team members, and older adults, the exercise was refined to include a guided survey and goals report. The goal setting survey is a list of probing questions designed based on SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) goal setting strategies and goal attainment scaling (GAS). This was used in phase II, carried out with 16 participants, where the feasibility of goal setting and goal attainment with support from volunteers and interprofessional teams was tested. Volunteers carried out the goal setting survey via a tablet computer, a report of client goals was generated and sent to interprofessional teams, and client goals were discussed during clinic huddles. At 6 months of follow-up, clients self-evaluated their progress using GAS. Results and discussion: The goal setting exercise in phase I took an average of 24:45 (SD 11:42) minutes and yielded a diverse set of life and health goals. Goals identified by older adults were primarily focused on the maintenance of a certain level of activity or health state. Phase I work resulted in important changes to the goal setting process (e.g., asking about goal setting later in conversation, changing wording of questions) and development of a summary report of goals sent to the interprofessional team. In phase II, 44 goals were set by 16 participants during an average 7:23 (SD 4:26) minute discussion. Of these goals, 43.9% were characterized as health goals while 63.4% were characterized as life goals. Under the umbrella of Life goals, productivity featured most prominently at 22.9% of all goals. Goal attainment was not measured in phase I. In phase II, clients had an average weighted goal attainment score of 51.5. Considering client preferences for one goal over another, 68.8% of clients, on average, at least partially achieved the goals they had set. Conclusion: Goal setting as part of the Health TAPESTRY approach was feasible and provided interprofessional teams with client narratives that helped improve care management for older adults. The overall intervention-including the refined goal setting component-is being scaled and evaluated in a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.