In the past, research in geriatrics was focused mainly on the basic sciences, and as a result much more is understood about the ageing process. Attention now needs to be paid to health services research, to evaluate the efficacy and economic viability of existing services, and to help plan future services. There must be continuous assessment of programmes in operation, incorporating measures of patient and family satisfaction. Studies of local prevalence and need should be undertaken as part of the process of developing new services. Outcome studies to demonstrate the value of particular models of care are needed to justify the continued use of resources in existing settings, as well as serving as models for new programmes and planning for future services. Although randomized controlled trials are difficult to carry out in the community, a number have been reported(5> and more such studies are needed.

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