Frail, elderly African-Americans experience improved health and lower mortality rates when their access to health care is increased, according to a study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. In the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a comprehensive team approach to health care, researchers followed the health status and survival rates of 859 elderly African-American and 2002 elderly white participants.
During the enrollment phase of PACE, the elderly African-American patients scored lower on mental health measures, ability to perform routine tasks, and degree of dementia than did the white patients. After a year of enrollment, the African-American patients had a survival rate of 88%, compared with 86% for the white patients, and were more likely to have improved health status. The 5-year survival rates were 51% and 42%, respectively. Researchers hope that results of the study will lead more communities to adopt the PACE model.