Short-term effectiveness of a community-implemented falls prevention referral service
van der Linden, Marietta
MetadataShow full item record
Christoforou, A., van der Linden, M. & Koufaki, P. (2017) Short-term effectiveness of a community-implemented falls prevention referral service. Disability and Rehabilitation, 40(20), pp. 2466-2474.
Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the 16-week evidence-based Steady Steps exercise referral scheme at improving physical function, balance confidence, and quality of life (QoL) of community-dwelling older adults at risk of falling. Method: A non-experimental, practice-based study involving a retrospective analysis of participant outcomes. Pre–post comparisons of three performance-based measures of gait and balance and of person-reported outcomes for balance confidence and QoL were performed. Effectiveness was evaluated in terms of statistically significant changes and relative to published fall-risk thresholds and minimal detectable changes (MDCs) or minimum clinically important differences. Results: One hundred and thirty-six participants completed the program over 19 months. Statistically significant differences were observed for all outcomes (p < 0.001), translating to an overall 42.6% reduction in falls-related risk. Approximately 63% of participants achieved an improvement ≥MDC in at least one of the performance-based tests. Greater than 55% achieved self-reported improvements in balance confidence ≥ MDC, while >40% reported clinically important improvements in QoL. Conclusions: While the non-experimental design precludes conclusive evidence of causation, the highly significant and clinically meaningful improvements observed in individuals who completed the evidence-based Steady Steps program support its translation of evidence into effective practice. Continued implementation and evaluation of such practices and their longer-term effects are warranted.Implications for RehabilitationFalls in older adults represent an escalating public health problem, and rehabilitation professionals are charged with developing and/or identifying feasible and effective evidence-based programs that target and reduce falls risk in this population.Our findings support Steady Steps as an effective third-sector referral rehabilitation service that successfully translates research evidence-based exercise interventions into effective practice, positively impacting physical function, balance confidence and quality of life (QoL) in community-dwelling older adults.Our study provides practice-based evidence of the effectiveness of exercise interventions that are progressively challenging, deliver a high dose of moderate to high intensity and target the main falls risk factors of muscle weakness and gait and balance impairment.In spite of their limitations, non-experimental, practice-based approaches provide rehabilitation professionals with feasible opportunities for evaluating existing services, such as Steady Steps, and contributing to the overall evidence-base for falls prevention and management. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group