Before we consider what to measure and how to measure outcomes in the rehabilitation of frail older adults, an antecedent question is, why measure these things? Without an answer satisfactory for both measurers and measured, much effort and ingenuity will be expended with resultant perspiration and exasperation and little else.
Traditionally, medical care, i.e. that identified by physicians, has assumed that its principal objective was patient care, i.e. that appreciated by patients. Outcomes of care from the viewpoint of the patient, of his or her informal supporters, of the involved health care professionals, and of the health care delivery system have to be clarified and made operationally explicit. This recognition requires definition and measurement. Thus a powerful reason for measuring outcomes for recipients and providers of health care, as well as the health care delivery system, is to know what is happening (the descriptive question) and with what effect (the analytical question).