Higher Vulnerable Elders Survey Scores Predict Death and Functional Decline in Vulnerable Older People

Published in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, v. 54, no. 3, Mar. 2006, p. 507-511

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Lillian Min, Marc N. Elliott, Neil S. Wenger, Debra Saliba

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OBJECTIVES: To examine whether the Vulnerable Elders Survey (VES-13) score predicts risk of death and functional decline in vulnerable older adults. DESIGN: Longitudinal evaluation with mean follow-up of 11 months (range 8-14 months). SETTING: Two managed care organizations in the United States. PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred twenty community-dwelling older people identified as having moderate to high risk of death and functional decline based on a VES-13 score of 3 or higher. These older people were enrolled in the Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders observational study. MEASUREMENTS: Baseline: VES-13 score, sex, income, cognitive score, and number of medical diagnoses. Outcome measures: functional decline and death. RESULTS: VES-13 scores strongly predicted death and functional decline (P<.001, area under the receiver operating curve=0.66). The estimated combined risk of death and decline rose with VES-13 score, increasing from 23% for older people with a VES-13 score of 3 to 60% for those with a score of 10. Other measures (sex, comorbidity) were not significant predictors of death or decline over this period after controlling for VES-13 score. CONCLUSION: The VES-13 score is useful as a screening tool to detect risk of health deterioration in already vulnerable older populations, and higher scores reflect greater risk over a short follow-up period.

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