Background: Care for falls and urinary incontinence (UI) among older patients is inadequate. One possible explanation is that physicians provide less recommended care to patients who are not as concerned about their falls and UI.
Objective: To test whether patient-reported severity for 2 geriatric conditions, falls, and UI, is associated with quality of care.
Research Design: Prospective cohort study of elders with falls and/or fear of falling (n = 384) and UI (n = 163).
Subjects: Participants in the Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders-2 Study (2002–2003), which evaluated an intervention to improve the care for falls and UI among older (age, ≥75) ambulatory care patients with falls/fear of falling or UI.
Measures: Falls Efficacy Scale (FES) and the Incontinence Quality of Life surveys measured at baseline, quality of care measured by a 13-month medical record abstraction.
Results: There was a small difference in falls quality scores across the range of FES, with greater patient-perceived falls severity associated with better odds of passing falls quality indicators (OR: 1.11 [95% CI: 1.02–1.21] per 10-point increment in FES). Greater patient-perceived UI severity (Incontinence Quality of Life score) was not associated with better quality of UI care.
Conclusions: Although older persons with greater patient-perceived falls severity receive modestly better quality of care, those with more distressing incontinence do not. For both conditions, however, even the most symptomatic patients received less than half of recommended care. Low patient-perceived severity of condition is not the basis of poor care for falls and UI.