Older adults' perceptions of fall-prevention education : a qualitative study

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristi Sanborn Miller (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/
Linda Comer

Abstract: The aim of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of older peoples’ experiences and perceptions of education about fall prevention to establish what features of communications about fall risk and prevention are perceived as helpful and acceptable and which are not. This research is based on the Health Belief Model, which predicts the likelihood of an individual to undertake recommended health action, such as taking part in fall risk reduction activities. Using purposive sampling, ten participants between the ages of 69 and 98 years, four male and six female from a variety of units were interviewed using fall prevention messages to stimulate discussion. The interviews were analyzed using the selective highlighting method of Max van Manen. Previous experience with fall prevention education indicated a lack of information: most participants suggested “being careful” was a way to reduce the risk of falling. Participants had a poor understanding of the link between physical condition and fall prevention and were unaware of the high risk for falls in a hospital setting. Participants described education relevant to reducing the risk of falling including the use of non skid rugs, getting up slowly, and asking for help. Interventions specific to personal events such as a bad fall, work-related hazards, and preoperative education were well remembered. Perceptions of fall prevention education included that education is helpful when it pertains to those who are at risk for falling, however participants did not perceive themselves to be a fall risk and did not accept changes with aging. Participants expressed frustration and aggravation with the way health care providers give advice. Many felt that education is not useful because falls are accidents that are not preventable. In addition, reception of education depends on who is giving the advice. Recommendations for improving education include receiving messages from trusted family, friends, and professionals, and educating health care providers on the use of evidence-based fall prevention interventions and teaching methodologies. In addition, messages that emphasize what can be done to promote independence, that build on strengths and what is already being done well should be employed. One way to accomplish this is to promote exercise programs. Health care providers should also help patients understand that most falls are preventable. Fall prevention interventions should be discussed before, during and after hospitalization, and should take place in the hospital, physician’s office, home, work place and community. Education programs that respect independence and life experience and involve the patient and family in planning interventions should be well received. It is also important to tailor the education to specific needs, use multimodal delivery methods, to practice with the participant and assess for understanding. Adoption of an education program that takes into account the needs and desires of the older adult inpatient population should increase participation in the program and reduce the fall rate in this high risk population.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Adult, Education, Fall, Older, Prevention, Qualitative
Falls (Accidents) in old age -- Prevention
Older people -- Health and hygiene

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