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Health TAPESTRY shows promise for shifting older adult health care from treatment to prevention

May 6 – The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published the results of the Health TAPESTRY (Health Teams Advancing Patient Experience: Strengthening Quality) study which started in Hamilton in 2015. The results from a pragmatic randomized controlled trial are promising.

Health TAPESTRY is a unique approach that brings together volunteers, technology, communities, and interprofessional health care teams.

“We found that older adults who took part in the Health TAPESTRY program changed the way in which they used health care services,” said Lisa Dolovich, lead author and professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster. “Encouragingly, participants had more visits to primary care with fewer emergency department and hospital admissions compared to those not in the program.”

While results from the randomized controlled trial did not affect the primary goal of the study, which was to help older adults to reach their health goals, there were other positive effects between the intervention and control groups. For example, there was an increase of 81 minutes of weekly walking time in the intervention group compared with a 120-minute decrease in the control group.

This program also leveraged the enormous resource of community volunteers, and integrated them into the formal health care system. The volunteers gave primary health care teams information that the health providers might not have otherwise known, which can be incorporated into.

“Health TAPESTRY leverages the enormous resource of community volunteers and integrates them into the formal primary health care system,” said Doug Oliver, co-author and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine. “The volunteers give health care teams access to information they might not have otherwise known, which means they can offer more proactive, person-centered care.”

Volunteers are able to see the value in this themselves, “If you can think of innovative ways for lay people to be involved in the care, as a community, to make people’s lives better and to have a share in community, I think that’s just really one of the highlights of [Health] TAPESTRY.”

David Price, co-author, professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, said: “These findings suggest that Health TAPESTRY has the potential to improve the way primary care is delivered in Canada by shifting care of individuals away from hospitals to the community and to a more proactive and preventative team-based model of care.”

Read the paper here.

Download an infographic of the results.


McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine