Two fundamental precepts of geriatrics are the importance of evaluating the whole person and matching therapy to that person's specific conditions and circumstances.1-4 The high prevalence of coexisting multiple diseases among older persons, the interactions of physiological systems affecting functional decline, and the heterogeneity of the older population create complex problems in deciding what information to obtain about a patient and applying it in clinical decisions. These complexities are often so great that good decision making in geriatrics may often be seen as more art than science.
Although art will probably always play a role in all fields of medicine, advances in geriatric research are providing a more scientific context for applying the geriatrician's integrative art to an expanding range of important clinical problems. The articles by Tinetti et al5 and Ouslander et al6 in this issue of JAMA reflect different aspects of these approaches.
Hadley EC. The Science of the Art of Geriatric Medicine. JAMA. 1995;273(17):1381-1383. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520410075030