The development of a short instrument to identify common unmet needs in older people in general practice

Iliffe, Steve, Lenihan, Penny, Orrell, Martin, Walters, Kate, Drennan, Vari and Tai, Sharon See (2004) The development of a short instrument to identify common unmet needs in older people in general practice. The British Journal of General Practice, 54(509), pp. 914-918. ISSN (print) 0960-1643


BACKGROUND: No structured needs assessment tool exists that is appropriate for older people and also suitable for use in routine consultations in general practice. AIMS: To engage older people in the development of a brief, valid, practical, and acceptable instrument to help identify common unmet needs suitable for use in routine clinical practice in primary care. DESIGN OF STUDY: User involvement in a multi-stages approach to heuristic development. SETTING: General practices, voluntary groups, and community organisations in north and central London. METHOD: Subjects included patients aged 65 years and over in purposively selected practices, voluntary organisations for older people in the same localities, community organisations involving older people, general practitioners and community nurses. Data were collected through mixed methodology interviews using a structured assessment tool (Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly), a postal questionnaire, and focus groups. Synthesis and interpretation of results was done through a consensus conference followed by a Delphi process involving primary care professionals. RESULTS: Five domains of unmet need were identified as priority areas by all three data collection methods, the consensus conference, and the Delphi process: senses (vision and hearing), physical ability (mobility and falls), incontinence, cognition, and emotional distress (depression and anxiety) (SPICE). CONCLUSIONS: Public involvement in the design of clinical tools allowed the development of a brief assessment instrument that could potentially identify common, important, and tractable unmet needs in older people.

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