When older adults who are not disabled complete a health risk questionnaire and receive reinforcement with counseling, they take better care of themselves and take preventive care measures, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine.

The trial, conducted by Andreas Stuck, MD, from the University Hospital Bern and University of Bern, Switzerland, found that the combination of the self-administered questionnaire and two years of counseling reduced the average participant’s number of risk factors and preventive care deficits. For example, at the 2-year follow up, 70% of members of the intervention group were physically active compared with 62% of the control group. Also, 66% of the intervention group had received an flu shot that year, compared with 59% of the control group. And over the 8-year follow up, the mortality rate was lower in the intervention group compared with the control group.

Overall, the authors say, the study findings indicate that health risk assessments that are adapted to a person’s region, combined with individual counseling, might be an effective and relatively low-cost way to improve health and survival among non-disabled older adults.