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Third of Elderly Patients Take Companion to See Doctor
Date:7/15/2008

Study found it improved satisfaction with visit by 15% to 19%

TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- More than one-third of elderly patients on Medicare take a companion with them for routine medical visits.

And patients who are accompanied on such visits tend to be more satisfied with the visit, according to a study published in the July 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"I think it's a fabulous idea [to have companions on medical visits]," said senior study author Debra L. Roter, a professor of health behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "And we have a very good notion of interventions now, ideas that can help companions and patients prepare for their visit in a more proactive and effective way. The consequences seem to be especially valuable for those elderly people that we generally think of as most vulnerable, those who are the sickest, the oldest and the least well-educated. Those are the people who seem to benefit the most by having somebody with them."

A previous study led by Roter had also indicated that it was common for older adults to take someone with them on medical visits, usually a spouse or adult child.

"We found that companions actually do lots of very helpful things for the patient, but our study was only one, and it was relatively small," Roter said.

She and a colleague decided to do analyze a larger population of 12,000 community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 and older who had participated in a 2004 survey. Roter had actually written several of the questions for that earlier survey.

Many of the findings dovetailed with the earlier, smaller study.

Here, 38.6 percent of participants said they were usually accompanied on routine medical visits. Those accompanied were usually older, less educated, and in poorer health.

Companions could be spouses (53.3 percent), adult c
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