Priority Setting in General Practice: Health Priorities of Older Patients Differ from Treatment Priorities of Their Physicians

Voigt, Isabel; Wrede, Jennifer; Diederichs-Egidi, Heike; Dierks, Marie-Luise; Junius-Walker, Ulrike
December 2010
Croatian Medical Journal;Dec2010, Vol. 51 Issue 6, p483
Academic Journal
Aim To ascertain health priorities of older patients and treatment priorities of their general practitioners (GP) on the basis of a geriatric assessment and to determine the agreement between these priorities. Methods The study included a sample of 9 general practitioners in Hannover, Germany, and a stratified sample of 35 patients (2-5 patients per practice, 18 female, average age 77.7 years). Patients were given a geriatric assessment using the Standardized Assessment for Elderly Patients in Primary Care (STEP) to gain an overview of their health and everyday problems. On the basis of these results, patients and their physicians independently rated the importance of each problem disclosed by the assessment. Whereas patients assessed the importance for their everyday lives, physicians assessed the importance for patients' medical care and patients' everyday lives. Results Each patient had a mean ±standard deviation of 18±9.2 health problems. Thirty five patients disclosed a total of 634 problems; 537 (85%) were rated by patients and physicians. Of these 537 problems, 332 (62%) were rated by patients and 334 (62%) by physicians as important for patients' everyday lives. In addition, 294 (55%) were rated by physicians as important for patients' medical care. Although these proportions of important problems were similar between patients and physicians, there was little overlap in the specific problems that each group considered important. The chance-corrected agreement (Cohen κ) between patients and physicians on the importance of problems for patients' lives was low (κ=0.23). Likewise, patients and physicians disagreed on the problems that physicians considered important for patients' medical care (κ=0.18,P<0.001 for each). Conclusion The low agreement on health and treatment priorities between patients and physicians necessitates better communication between the two parties to strengthen mutual understanding.


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