Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Health risk assessment and counselling improves survival in older people


A study published this week in PLOS Medicine shows that a collaborative care model improves health behaviors and survival among community-dwelling older people.

In almost every country, the over-60 age group is growing faster than any other age group. Programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle and the uptake of preventative care among older people are a health policy priority. In this pragmatic trial, Andreas Stuck from University Hospital Bern and ISPM researchers André Moser, Marcel Zwahlen and Matthias Egger found that health risk assessment by self-administered questionnaire combined with two years of personal reinforcement by trained counselors was effective in reducing the average participant’s number of risk factors and preventative care deficits. For example, at the 2-year follow-up, 70% of the intervention group were physically active compared to 62% of the control group and 66% of the intervention group had had an influenza vaccination that year compared to 59% of the control group. Over the 8-year follow-up, the mortality rate was 3.2 per 100 person-years in the intervention group, as compared to 4.0 in the control group (Hazard Ratio 0.79, 95% CI 0.66–0.94, p = 0.009). To avert one death over eight years, 21 individuals would need to receive the intervention. These findings suggest that the use of regionally adapted approaches for health risk assessment combined with individual counseling might be an effective way to improve health and survival among non-disabled older people.

Stuck AE, Moser A, Morf U, Wirz U, Wyser J, Gillmann G, et al. (2015) Effect of Health Risk Assessment and Counselling on Health Behaviour and Survival in Older People: A Pragmatic Randomised Trial. PLoS Med 12(10): e1001889. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001889.

Link to the study: