Journal Article

Older people can stay on their feet: final results of a community-based falls prevention programme

Anne Kempton, Eric van Beurden, Tim Sladden, Everald Garner and John Beard

in Health Promotion International

Volume 15, issue 1, pages 27-33
Published in print March 2000 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online March 2000 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/heapro/15.1.27
Older people can stay on their feet: final results of a community-based falls prevention programme

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Objective: To evaluate a multi-strategic community-based intervention to prevent older people falling.

Design: A prospective cohort study comparing randomly selected samples from intervention and control area target populations (residents over 60 years). Repeat, cross-sectional (annual) reviews of fall-related hospitalizations were also conducted providing an independent measure of falls incidence in the target populations.

Setting: North Coast of New South Wales, Australia (a large, rural region).

Subjects: Cohort study (1991–1995): randomly selected subjects aged 60 years and over, enrolled via telephone interview into intervention and control area cohorts. Cross-sectional study (1991/1992–1994/1995): all residents aged 60 years and over, from intervention and control areas hospitalized with fall-related injuries.

Intervention: A 4-year (1992–1995) multi-strategic intervention targeting fall-related knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and risk factors.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported falls and fall-related hospitalization incidence rates. Fall-related knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and risk factor prevalence rates.

Results: At follow-up there was a 22% non-significant lower incidence of self-reported falls in the intervention compared to the control cohort (p = 0.17). This was supported by a 20% lower fall-related hospitalization rate in target group residents from intervention compared to control areas (p < 0.01). Increased falls knowledge, physical activity and safe footwear were also observed in the intervention cohort together with improved balance and reduced intake of fall-related medications.

Conclusions: Promotion of appropriate behaviours, environments and policies can improve fall-related outcomes given a commitment to involvement of older people and sufficient lead time.

Keywords: community-based prevention; falls; injury; older people

Journal Article.  3920 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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