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Evidence Summary

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Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on

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The evidence is inconclusive about the effectiveness of home visits by health and social care professionals to maintain the health and autonomy of community-dwelling older adults

 

Grant, S, Parsons, A, Burton, J, Montgomery, et al.  Home visits for prevention of impairment and death in older adults: A systematic review  Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2014; 10(3): 1-86.

Review question

      What is the effectiveness of home visits in reducing impairment, institutionalization, and death in older adults, and what factors moderate the impact of such visits?

Background

      The vast majority of older adults prefer to age in the comfort of their own home. Home visits by health- and social-care professionals aim to maintain the health and autonomy of older adults by preventing cognitive and functional impairments.

      This systematic review aims to assess the effectiveness of home visits for adults over the age of 65, while addressing mediating factors that moderate the impact of home visits.

How the review was done

      A detailed search of a number of electronic databases for studies published between 1984 and 2012 was conducted. Studies that focused on older adults, home visits and effectiveness were included in the review.

      A total of 14,854 studies were identified in searches, and 64 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

      This review was funded by the Nordic Campbell Centre (Denmark).

What the researchers found

      The articles included in this systematic review found evidence that home visits did not reduce absolute mortality or institutionalization of older adults.

      The review also found a low level of evidence supporting the fact that home visits for older adults prevented the incidence of falls. Despite this, several studies found that home visits did, in some cases, improve the quality of life of older adults.

Conclusion

      In summary, the review was unable to determine reliable effects of home visits for older adults, particularly when comparing different settings, types of visitors and focus of such visits.




Glossary

Systematic review
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.

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