Frailty characteristics and preventive home visits: an audit on elderly patients in Danish general practice

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Abstract

Aim.

Preventive home visits (PHVs) to frail elderly patients, provided by the GP, have been widely promoted in many health care systems, including the Danish system. This study investigates to what extent PHVs are provided to patients with characteristics of frailty.

Methods.

During a four-week period, GPs and their staff in three different parts of Denmark filled in a questionnaire for each patient aged 75 years or older who attended the clinic or received a home visit. The association between 20 different frailty characteristics and the receipt of a PHV was assessed through logistic regression.

Results.

A total of 73 GPs and 41 staff members sampled information about 3133 patients, of whom 332 patients (10.7%) had received a PHV within one year prior to their audit date. A PHV was closely associated with the patient’s number of frailty characteristics. The adjusted odds ratios show that the receipt of a PHV was associated with a low walking distance 2.34 (1.65–3.31), dementia 3.35 (2.26–4.96), depression 2.24 (1.38–3.63) and a need for home care 3.40 (2.45–4.73), and increased with the GP’s tendency to provide PHVs.

Conclusion.

Most PHV-receiving elderly patients have several characteristics of frailty, the most significant being impaired mobility, dementia, depression and a need for home care. PHVs are also more often provided to patients listed with a GP who has an overall high tendency to conduct these visits.

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