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Elderly want say in treatment

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Spring


Elderly patients with multiple medical conditions want to be involved in their treatment decisions, Yale researchers reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in October.

About 65 percent of older Medicare beneficiaries have at least two chronic conditions, and 24 percent have four or more. These patients face what are called “competing outcomes”—complex choices presented when the treatment for one condition could worsen another. Medicine for elevated cholesterol, for example, may cause leg cramps that prevent a patient from doing exercises that reduce arthritis symptoms.

Study author Terri R. Fried, M.D., associate professor of medicine (geriatrics), and her team conducted 13 focus groups with 66 people age 65 and older who had an average of five chronic conditions and took an average of seven medications. When faced with competing outcomes, Fried said, “They chose the treatment option that would maximize the likelihood of their most desired outcome.”

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