Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

Proactive and integrated primary care for frail older people: design and methodological challenges of the Utrecht primary care PROactive frailty intervention trial (U-PROFIT)

Nienke Bleijenberg1*, Irene Drubbel1, Valerie H ten Dam1, Mattijs E Numans1, Marieke J Schuurmans2 and Niek J de Wit1

Author Affiliations

1 Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, Utrecht CG 3584, The Netherlands

2 Department of Rehabilitation, Nursing Science and Sports Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Geriatrics 2012, 12:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-16

Published: 25 April 2012



Currently, primary care for frail older people is reactive, time consuming and does not meet patients' needs. A transition is needed towards proactive and integrated care, so that daily functioning and a good quality of life can be preserved. To work towards these goals, two interventions were developed to enhance the care of frail older patients in general practice: a screening and monitoring intervention using routine healthcare data (U-PRIM) and a nurse-led multidisciplinary intervention program (U-CARE). The U-PROFIT trial was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions. The aim of this paper is to describe the U-PROFIT trial design and to discuss methodological issues and challenges.


The effectiveness of U-PRIM and U-CARE is being tested in a three-armed, cluster randomized trial in 58 general practices in the Netherlands, with approximately 5000 elderly individuals expected to participate. The primary outcome is the effect on activities of daily living as measured with the Katz ADL index. Secondary outcomes are quality of life, mortality, nursing home admission, emergency department and out-of-hours General Practice (GP), surgery visits, and caregiver burden.


In a large, pragmatic trial conducted in daily clinical practice with frail older patients, several challenges and methodological issues will occur. Recruitment and retention of patients and feasibility of the interventions are important issues. To enable broad generalizability of results, careful choices of the design and outcome measures are required. Taking this into account, the U-PROFIT trial aims to provide robust evidence for a structured and integrated approach to provide care for frail older people in primary care.

Trial registration


Frailty; Older people; Proactive and integrated care; General practice; Primary care