Older people's views of advice about falls prevention: A qualitative study
Yardley L., Donovan-Hall M., Francis K., Todd C.
The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of older people's perceptions of falls prevention advice, and how best to design communications that will encourage older people to take action to prevent falls. Focus groups and interviews were carried out with 66 people aged 61-94 years recruited from a variety of settings, using falls prevention messages to stimulate discussion. Thematic analysis revealed that participants interpreted 'falls prevention' principally as meaning hazard reduction, use of aids and restriction of activity. Only one participant was aware that falls risk could be reduced by carrying out exercises to improve strength and balance. Falls prevention advice was typically regarded as useful in principle but not personally relevant or appropriate. Advice about falling was often depicted as common sense, only necessary for older or more disabled individuals, and potentially patronizing and distressing. Our findings suggest that older people do not reject falls prevention advice because of ignorance of their risk of falling, but because they see it as a potential threat to their identity and autonomy. Messages that focus on the positive benefits of improving balance may be more acceptable and effective than advice on falls prevention. © The Author 2006. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.