Preventing falls in older people

Conroy, Simon (2009) Preventing falls in older people. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Falls are a major cause of injury fear of falling and death affecting 24% of older people annually. Falls have a major impact on hospital services, are an important cause of carer strain and admission to long term care.

Multifactorial interventions delivered to fallers are effective in reducing falls rates by 25%. However, no UK studies have evaluated the role of screening older people living in the community and offering those at high risk a falls prevention programme. This work describes two studies – the evaluation of a postal falls risk screening tool, and a randomised controlled trial assessing the benefits of offering a falls prevention programme to those identified as being at high risk.

335 older people were recruited into the screening study, using a modified version of the Falls Risk Assessment Tool. The sensitivity was 79%, specificity 58%, positive predictive value 50% and the negative predictive value 83%.

In the RCT, 364 community-dwelling older people at high risk of falls were randomised into a pragmatic, multicentre trial evaluating falls prevention programmes. 181 were allocated to the control group and 183 to the intervention.

The primary outcome was the rate of falls; the adjusted IRR was 0.73 (0.51-1.03), p=0.071. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of the proportion of fallers, recurrent fallers, medically verified falls, injurious falls, time to first fall or time to second fall. Nor were there significant differences in terms of institutionalisation, mortality, basic or extended activities of daily living, or fear of falling.

Further work on testing falls prevention interventions for acceptability is required, followed by a further adequately powered RCT to determine the clinical effectiveness of a systematic screening programme and intervention. At present, there is insufficient evidence for health care commissioners to recommend screening and intervention for falls.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Gladman, J.R.F.
Kendrick, D.
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WT Geriatrics. Chronic disease
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Community Health Sciences
Item ID: 11058
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2010 13:55
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 16:04

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