Adoption of Evidence-Based Fall Prevention Practices in Primary Care for Older Adults with a History of Falls

Elizabeth A. Phelan, Sally Aerts, David Dowler, Elizabeth Eckstrom, Colleen Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

A multifactorial approach to assess and manage modifiable risk factors is recommended for older adults with a history of falls. Limited research suggests that this approach does not routinely occur in clinical practice, but most related studies are based on provider self-report, with the last chart audit of United States practice published over a decade ago. We conducted a retrospective chart review to assess the extent to which patients aged 65+ years with a history of repeated falls or fall-related health-care use received multifactorial risk assessment and interventions. The setting was an academic primary care clinic in the Pacific Northwest. Among the 116 patients meeting our inclusion criteria, 48% had some type of documented assessment. Their mean age was 79 ± 8 years; 68% were female, and 10% were non-white. They averaged six primary care visits over a 12-month period subsequent to their index fall. Frequency of assessment of fall-risk factors varied from 24% (for home safety) to 78% (for vitamin D). An evidence-based intervention was recommended for identified risk factors 73% of the time, on average. Two risk factors were addressed infrequently: medications (21%) and home safety (24%). Use of a structured visit note template independently predicted assessment of fall-risk factors (p = 0.003). Geriatrics specialists were more likely to use a structured note template (p = 0.04) and perform more fall-risk factor assessments (4.6 vs. 3.6, p = 0.007) than general internists. These results suggest opportunities for improving multifactorial fall-risk assessment and management of older adults at high fall risk in primary care. A structured visit note template facilitates assessment. Given that high-risk medications have been found to be independent risk factors for falls, increasing attention to medications should become a key focus of both public health educational efforts and fall prevention in primary care practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number190
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 8 2016

Keywords

  • accidental falls/*prevention and control
  • aged 80
  • medical audit
  • physicians/*standards
  • practice patterns
  • risk assessment/standards
  • risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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