Preventing Falls in Older People: Impact of an Intervention to Reduce Environmental Hazards in the Home

Margaret Stevens, D'Arcy Holman, N. Bennett

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93 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the impact of an intervention to reduce fall hazards in the homes of older people.DESIGN: The intervention was administered to the 570 subjects in the experimental arm of a randomized controlled trial, with follow-up of subjects for 1 year.SETTING: Community-based seniors living in Perth, Australia.PARTICIPANTS: People age 70 and older.INTERVENTION: Registered nurses delivered the intervention. It consisted of a home hazard assessment, an educational strategy on general fall hazard reduction and ways to reduce identified home hazards, and the free installation of safety devices: grab rails, nonslip stripping on steps, and double-sided tape for floor rugs and mats. All intervention subjects received the home hazard assessment, and 96% received the educational strategy. Grab rails were installed in 77% of homes, rugs were stabilized in 8%, and nonslip step stripping was installed in 36%.MEASUREMENTS: Hazard prevalence was assessed at baseline in all homes and 11 months later in a random sample of 51 homes. Action taken in response to the intervention was assessed by a self-completed postal questionnaire completed 11 months after the intervention.RESULTS: All homes had at least one fall hazard. The most prevalent were floor rugs and mats (mean of 14 per home), stepovers (Stepovers are structural changes to the height of the floor that were designed to be stepped over rather than stepped upon, for example, the lip of a shower or a bath side.) (mean of seven per home), steps (mean of four per home), and trailing cords (mean of two per home). The intervention was associated with a small but significant reduction in four of the five most prevalent hazards. The mean number of unsafe rugs and mats was reduced by 1.57 per house (95% confidence interval (Cl) = 0.91-2.24); the mean number of unsafe steps was reduced by 0.61 per house (95% Cl = 0.28-0.94); the mean number of rooms with trailing cords was reduced by 0.43 per house (95% Cl = 0.10-0.76); and the mean number of unsafe chairs was reduced by 0.10 per house (95% CI 0.02-0.18).Safety devices were installed in 81.9% of homes. Advice on modifying specific hazards identified on the home hazard assessment resulted in over 50% of subjects removing hazards of floor rugs and mats, trailing cords, and obstacles. The general education message prompted less activity to reduce these hazards than did the advice on identified hazards.CONCLUSIONS: Fall hazards are ubiquitous in the homes of older people. The intervention resulted in a small reduction in the mean number of hazards per house, with many study subjects taking action but removing only a few hazards. The impact of the intervention in achieving self-reported action to reduce hazards was high.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1442-1447
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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