Feb 6, 2008
OBJECTIVES: Prior research shows that the quality of care provided to vulnerable older persons is suboptimal, but little is known about the factors associated with care quality for this group. In this study, the influences of clinical conditions, types of care processes, and sociodemographic characteristics on the quality of care received by vulnerable older people were evaluated. DESIGN: Observational cohort study. SETTING: Two senior managed care plans. PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred sixty-two community-dwelling patients aged 65 and older identified as vulnerable by the Vulnerable Elder Survey (VES-13). MEASUREMENTS: Outcome variable: patients' observed-minus-expected overall quality score. Predictor variables: types of care processes, types and number of clinical conditions, sex, age, VES-13 score (composite score of function and self-rated health), income, education, mental health status, and number of quality indicators triggered. RESULTS: Patients whose conditions required more history-taking, counseling, and medication-prescribing care processes and patients with diabetes mellitus received lower-than-expected quality of care. A greater number of comorbid conditions was associated with higher-than-expected quality of care. Age, sex, VES-13 score, and other sociodemographic variables were not associated with quality of care. CONCLUSION: Complexity, vulnerability, and age do not predispose older persons to receive poorer-quality care. In contrast, older patients whose care requires time-consuming processes such as history taking and counseling are at risk for worse quality of care and should be a target for intervention to improve care.