Improving early detection initiatives: A qualitative study exploring perspectives of older people and professionals

M. Lette, H. J. Stoop, L.C. Lemmens, Y. Buist, C. A. Baan, S. R. De Bruin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A wide range of initiatives on early detection and intervention have been developed to proactively identify problems related to health and wellbeing in (frail) older people, with the aim of supporting them to live independently for as long as possible. Nevertheless, it remains unclear what the best way is to design such initiatives and how older people’s needs and preferences can be best addressed. This study aimed to address this gap in the literature by exploring: 1) older people’s perspectives on health and living environment in relation to living independently at home; 2) older people’s needs and preferences in relation to initiating and receiving care and support; and 3) professionals’ views on what would be necessary to enable the alignment of early detection initiatives with older people’s own needs and preferences.
In this qualitative study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 36 older people and 19 professionals in proactive elderly care. Data were analysed using the framework analysis method.
From the interviews with older people important themes in relation to health and living environment emerged, such as maintaining independence, appropriate housing, social relationships, a supporting network and a sense of purpose and autonomy. Older people preferred to remain self-sufficient, and they would rather not ask for help for psychological or social problems. However, the interviews also highlighted that they were not always able or willing to anticipate future needs, which can hinder early detection or early intervention. At the same time, professionals indicated that older people tend to over-estimate their self-reliance and therefore advocated for early detection and intervention, including social and psychological issues.
Older people have a broad range of needs in different domains of life. Discrepancies exist between older people and professionals with regard to their views on timing and scope of early detection initiatives. This study aimed to reveal starting-points for better alignment between initiatives and older people’s needs and preferences. Such starting points may support policy makers and care professionals involved in early detection initiatives to make more informed decisions.
Keywords: Early detection, Frailty, Health, Health care ,Older people, Proactive elderly care, Social care, Wellbeing, Qualitative research
Original languageEnglish
Article number132
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


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