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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 56:M106-M112 (2001)
© 2001 The Gerontological Society of America

The Effects of a Collaborative Model of Primary Care on the Mortality and Hospital Use of Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Cheryl Schraedera, Paul Sheltona and Mark Sagerb

a Coordinated Care Services, Carle Clinic Association, Urbana, Illinois
b Geriatrics Section, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School and Wisconsin Alzheimer's Institute, Madison, Wisconsin

Paul Shelton, Coordinated Care Services, P.O. Box 718, 307 East Oak #3, Mahomet, IL 61853 E-mail: psshelton{at}

Decision Editor: William B. Ershler, MD

Background. This study evaluates the ability of a model of collaborative primary care practice to reduce mortality and hospital use in community-dwelling elderly persons.

Methods. Four rural and four urban clinic sites in east central Illinois were randomized to form treatment and comparison clinics from which patients were enrolled and followed prospectively for 2 years. Patients from the practices of participating physicians were eligible if they were aged 65 and older, were living in the community, and had at least one risk factor as determined prior to the study. Medicare hospital data were obtained from the Health Care Financing Administration. Demographic and health status measures were obtained by telephone interview every 12 months throughout the study.

Results. The treatment group experienced a 49% reduction in all-cause mortality during the second year of the study (odds ratio, 0.51, 95% confidence interval, 0.29–0.91, p = .02). There were no significant differences between treatment and comparison patients in percentage of persons hospitalized, hospital length of stay, or Medicare payments. Although measures of health status indicated that the treatment group was significantly sicker at baseline at the end of 1 year, these differences disappeared by the end of 2 years.

Conclusions. The collaborative primary care model evaluated in this study significantly reduced mortality in the second year, without increasing hospital use. These findings suggest that a collaborative primary care team that enhances primary care practice can result in better patient outcomes.

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