Prospective care of elderly patients in family practice. Part 3: Prevalence of unrecognized treatable health concerns. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of recognized and unrecognized health concerns and risks in an elderly population. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey. SETTING: Institutional primary care practice in a small southern Ontario city. PATIENTS: Volunteer sample of all patients older than 65 years (N = 1385) who were registered with the practice; were not demented, unstable, or residing in institutions at the time of contact; consented to participate; and completed a questionnaire (n = 674). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported health concerns and health risks, including compliance with periodic health examinations; patient-generated concerns; and medical, lifestyle, and psychosocial issues. RESULTS: Most (92%) patients had at least one health concern or risk; 83% of these had one or more unreported or unrecognized health concerns or risks. The proportion with at least one concern or risk did not differ by sex or by age group. Many but not all complied with periodic health examinations. Loneliness was a meaningful psychosocial problem. Many patients had unreported medical concerns; the proportion rose slightly with age. Seniors with more concerns visited more frequently. CONCLUSIONS: Although most seniors had health concerns or risks, on average, each patient had only one or two concerns. These concerns are not concentrated in any particular area. Although non-attenders have fewer concerns, many have risk factors for diseases likely to progress without preventive measures, such as influenza vaccine and screening procedures for hypertension and breast, cervical, and prostate cancer.

publication date

  • October 1995