Much more medicine for the oldest old: trends in UK electronic clinical records
Age and Ageing
Oxford University Press (OUP)
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: the oldest old (85+) pose complex medical challenges. Both underdiagnosis and overdiagnosis are claimed in this group. OBJECTIVE: to estimate diagnosis, prescribing and hospital admission prevalence from 2003/4 to 2011/12, to monitor trends in medicalisation. DESIGN AND SETTING: observational study of Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) electronic medical records from general practice populations (eligible; n = 27,109) with oversampling of the oldest old. METHODS: we identified 18 common diseases and five geriatric syndromes (dizziness, incontinence, skin ulcers, falls and fractures) from Read codes. We counted medications prescribed ≥1 time in all quarters of studied years. RESULTS: there were major increases in recorded prevalence of most conditions in the 85+ group, especially chronic kidney disease (stages 3-5: prevalence <1% rising to 36.4%). The proportions of the 85+ group with ≥3 conditions rose from 32.2 to 55.1% (27.1 to 35.1% in the 65-84 year group). Geriatric syndrome trends were less marked. In the 85+ age group the proportion receiving no chronically prescribed medications fell from 29.6 to 13.6%, while the proportion on ≥3 rose from 44.6 to 66.2%. The proportion of 85+ year olds with ≥1 hospital admissions per year rose from 27.6 to 35.4%. CONCLUSIONS: there has been a dramatic increase in the medicalisation of the oldest old, evident in increased diagnosis (likely partly due to better record keeping) but also increased prescribing and hospitalisation. Diagnostic trends especially for chronic kidney disease may raise concerns about overdiagnosis. These findings provide new urgency to questions about the appropriateness of multiple diagnostic labelling.
This study was supported by Age UK (registered charity number 1128267). The team hold a licence to analyse CPRD data. A.B. was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research. J.A.H.M. is funded by a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship Award. W.E.H. was supported by the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, Age UK or the Department of Health. Financial sponsors played no role in the design, execution, analysis and interpretation of data or writing of the study
This is the final version of the article. Available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 44, pp. 46 - 53
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