Compliance of Frail Elderly With Health Services Prescribed at Discharge From an Acute-Care Geriatric Ward

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A model of compliance by frail elderly with prescribed healthcare services was developed and tested. The discrepancy between primary care, geriatric and community health center (CLSC) services prescribed at discharge after comprehensive geriatric evaluation and treatment was measured, as were those services actually used during a 6-week interval (compliance). In this model, compliance was directly related to elders' intention to adhere to prescribed services, but this relationship was modified by organizational factors, reinforcing factors, and changes in health status during the observation period. Intention to adhere resulted from individual and reinforcing factors existing before discharge.


This model was tested on 211 patients discharged to community settings from an acute-care hospital geriatrics ward. Information was obtained through interviews with the patients or care givers and from hospital, outpatient, and local community health center charts.


On average, patients used 56.9% of services prescribed; 13% of patients did not used any of the services prescribed for them, whereas 22% used all the services prescribed. Intention to adhere was influenced by patients' perception of the benefits of prescribed services and by their perception of the ease of access to transportation. Intention itself was not found to be an important determinant of overall compliance. Among organizational factors, having the ward staff make a follow-up appointment with the patients' family doctor and with the geriatric clinic before discharge and communication with the local community health center increased overall compliance. Moreover, patients who perceived they had access to transportation and to an accompanying person were more likely to comply.


The results suggest that when discharging patients to the community, steps taken for them by the discharging healthcare providers will improve compliance.

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