UCSF Takes Lead on New JAMA Aging Series

January 13, 2010

Seth Landefeld

The UCSF Division of Geriatrics is producing and editing a two-year series in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) focusing on caring for the world’s aging population.

The 12-part series, “Care of the Aging Patient: From Evidence to Action,” launched in December with the goal of preparing physicians to meet the complex and varied needs of older patients.

The series “will follow the trajectory of the progression of disability and decline,” covering topics such as falls, incontinence, confusion, and mobility problems, said senior editor Seth Landefeld, MD, professor and chief of the Geriatrics Division in the UCSF Department of Medicine.

The need for the series is obvious to anyone who has tried to get care for an older friend or relative with one of these problems, Landefeld said. 

“It’s easier to get a PET scan than it is to find a doctor who will provide state-of-the-art care to your grandmother when she’s not walking or talking as well as she used to,” he said.

Each installment of the series will feature examples of real patients at varying stages of the aging process, and will be written by a diverse group of health experts from around the country, Landefeld said.

The series will also include commentaries by individuals with close ties to health policy, such as Christine Cassel, MD, president of the American Board of Internal Medicine, who supplied commentary for the series’ launch. 

“Our goal is to reach practicing physicians and policy makers,” Landefeld said in a recent phone interview. “The real drive here is to build knowledge and build buzz about the care of these aging patients in a way that will really change practice.”

Production of the new series is being funded by The SCAN Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on finding innovative solutions to the health care needs of California’s seniors.

Aging Population

The California Department of Aging estimates that by 2020, the number of Californians aged 60 and older will have increased 112 percent from 1990 levels, while the number of individuals aged 85 and older will have risen 143 percent.

A 2008 report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that “the health care workforce…is not prepared to deliver the best care to older patients.” Landefeld said the new JAMA series takes a step toward solving that problem.

Landefeld and his colleagues modeled the series after another UCSF-led series that ran in JAMA from 2000 to 2008, “Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life.” That series, funded initially by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later by the California Health Care Foundation and the Archstone Foundation, was developed by UCSF professor Stephen McPhee, MD, along with other members of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine.

“The McPhee series was trying to create journal articles that were directly relevant to practice, which is exactly our aim as well,” Landefeld said. 

Landefeld said UCSF is in a unique position to spearhead such an ambitious and important project.

“A lot of UCSF’s strength is in the area of clinical research, and we have a tremendous breadth and depth of expertise related to aging,” he said. “In addition, our faculty is especially strong in producing scholarly products and bringing the best evidence to bear in the care of patients.”

Related Links:


UCSF Division of Geriatrics

Clinical Care in the Aging Century—Announcing “Care of the Aging Patient: From Evidence to Action”
Journal of the American Medical Association, Dec. 23/30, 2009

Physicians need better training in end-of-life care, according to UCSF editors of new JAMA series
UCSF News Release, Nov. 15, 2000

The SCAN Foundation