Old people are less likely to die if they receive regular home visits from health professionals. A Swedish study published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health reveals that people over the age of 75 who received home visits from health professionals, twice a year for two years, had a mortality rate nearly half that of pensioners who did not receive any visits. The pensioners' mortality rate increased as soon as the series of visits ended.
Klas-Göran Sahlen, from Umeå University in Sweden and colleagues from Umeå University and the National Board of Health and Welfare in Stockholm, Sweden, studied the impact of home visits carried out by health professionals on the mortality rate of a group of 196 pensioners. Each pensioner was visited four times, once every six months, in 2001 and 2002. Each visit lasted for one to three hours. During the visits, the pensioners received general information about physical activity, symptoms of common diseases, influenza vaccination, diet and awareness of risk for fall injuries. A group of 346 pensioners who were not visited formed the control group. The mortality rate was reassessed during the two years following the study period.
The results of Sahlen et al's study show that the mortality rate in the group of pensioners who received the visits was 27 per 1000 years during the study period. In the control group the mortality rate was 48 per 1000 during the study period. The mortality rate increased in both groups during the follow-up period and the difference between the two groups disappeared: the mortality rate was 60 per 1000 years for both groups.
Preventive home visits postpone mortality: a controlled trial with time-limited results. Klas-Goran Sahlen, Lars Dahlgren, Britt-Marie Hellner, Hans Stenlund and Lars Lindholm BMC Public Health 2006, in press
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