To Treat or Not to Treat: Issues in Decisions Not to Treat Older Persons With Cognitive Impairment, Depression, and Incontinence
McDowell, B. Joan
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1997 Sep; 45(9): 1094-1101.
OBJECTIVES: To examine decisions not to treat problems identified during outpatient geriatric assessment, particularly problems of cognitive impairment, depression, or urinary incontinence. DESIGN: A descriptive study using patients' medical charts and survey data and interviews with clinical staff. SETTING: Four hospital-based, ambulatory, geriatric assessment clinics in Allegheny Country, PA. PARTICIPANTS: The sample comprised 128 older adults, recruited to a randomized, controlled clinical trial, who had problems associated with cognitive impairment, depression, or urinary incontinence. RESULTS: Although treatment was recommended for most of the problems relating to cognitive impairment, depression, and/or incontinence experienced by this group, slightly more than one-third of cognitive impairment and depression problems and nearly one-half of incontinence did not receive treatment recommendations. Treatment rates varied considerably by condition and combination of comorbidity. Decisions not to treat are classified into six categories: patient or family refused treatment, the assessment was not completed, an intervention was already in place, concurrent problems or comorbities might have interfered with treatment, there was no documented diagnosis or there was a documented consideration and rule out of the problem, or no documented reason. CONCLUSION: Outpatient geriatric assessment units are designed to deal with the multiple problems experienced by their geriatric patients, and they identify successfully most problems presented by their frail constituents. However, identification of the patient's problems is only the first step in the assessment process and does not necessarily lead to either a documented diagnosis or to a treatment recommendation. Multiple social, cultural, environmental, and medical factors complicate the assessment process and, hence, the decision clinicians face when they decide whether to make recommendations to treat. These clinicians must weigh all medical and non-medical factors, including the patient's receptivity to treatment, when prioritizing the problems they deem to be treatable and making recommendations to treat.
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To Treat or Not to Treat: Issues in Decisions Not to Treat Older Persons With Cognitive Impairment, Depression, and Incontinence Silverman, Myrna; McDowell, B. Joan; Musa, Donald; Rodriguez, Eric; Martin, David (1997-09)
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