Environmental assessment and modification to prevent falls in older people

Pighills, Alison C., Torgerson, David J., Sheldon, Trevor A., Drummond, Avril E., and Bland, J. Martin (2011) Environmental assessment and modification to prevent falls in older people. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59 (1). pp. 26-33.

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OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of an environmental falls prevention intervention delivered by qualified occupational therapists or unqualified trained assessors.

DESIGN: A pilot three-armed randomized controlled trial.

SETTING: Airedale National Health Service Trust catchment, North and West Yorkshire, England.

PARTICIPANTS: Two hundred thirty-eight community-dwelling adults aged 70 and older with a history of falls in the previous year.

INTERVENTION: Assessment and modification of the home environment of people at greater risk of falls.

MEASUREMENTS: Fear of falling was the primary outcome measure, and an analysis of covariance was conducted on the area under the curve at 12 months. As a secondary outcome, falls were analysed using negative binomial regression. Quality of life and independence in activities of daily living (ADLs) were also measured.

RESULTS: The intervention had no effect on fear of falling (P=.63). The occupational therapy group had significantly fewer falls than controls 12 months after the assessment (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=0.54, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.36–0.83, P=.005). There was no significant effect on falls in the trained assessor group (IRR=0.78, 95% CI=0.51–1.21, P=.34).

CONCLUSION: Environmental assessment had no effect on fear of falling. Environmental assessment prescribed by an occupational therapist significantly reduced the number of falls in high-risk individuals whereas that prescribed by a trained assessor did not. Further research in other settings is needed to confirm this, to explore the mechanisms, and to estimate cost-effectiveness.

Item ID: 33848
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1532-5415
Keywords: falls; fear of falling; older people; environment; occupational therapy; home assessment
Funders: National Institute for Health Research National Coordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development, Department of Health Research Capacity Development Programme
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2014 06:57
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920403 Disability and Functional Capacity @ 100%
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