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Abstract

Purpose: As people age, they are at greater risk of injurious falls. Falling has a significant impact not only on the individual but also the wider community. Undertaking physical activity is effective in reducing the rate of falls in this population. Therefore, providing targeted education during group-based falls prevention programs may increase the awareness and amount of physical activity older people undertake to assist in reducing their risk of falling. Methods: A longitudinal cohort design involving a pre-post intervention survey was conducted over an eight-month period with community-dwelling older adults who participated in a fall-prevention program. Participants were N = 161 (123 female and 38 male), aged 65 years and over, with the most common age bracket being 75 to 84 years. Demographic information was collected at baseline. It included falls history and self-reported physical activity levels. Immediately post-intervention, self-reported changes in the awareness of the role of physical activity and awareness of falls risks were measured. Six months post-intervention, participants self-reported their physical activity levels and post-program fall history. Results: An increase in awareness of the role of physical activity in reducing falls risk as well as falls risk factors was reported in most participants after completing the program. Despite this, only around a third of participants increased their physical activity levels during the six months after the program even though a decrease in falls rates was noted. Conclusions: The targeted education within the falls prevention program demonstrated an increase in awareness of falls risk factors and the importance of regular physical activity to minimise the risk of falling. However, this awareness did not seem to result in an increase in the amount of physical activity participants undertook after the program, even though falls rates across the participants reduced. Further research is needed to explore why older people who understand the benefits of undertaking regular physical activity did not increase their activity levels.

Author Bio(s)

Kristy Robson, PhD, MHSc(Education), DipHSc(Podiatry), is a registered podiatrist and academic in the School of Community Health at Charles Sturt University.

Nazmul Ahasan, BSc(with Honours), MSc(Biochemistry), MSc(Nutrition & Dietetics), is the Falls Prevention Coordinator in the Directorate of Integrated Care and Allied Health Suite, Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Carly Barnes is the Stepping On Falls Program Coordinator, Health Promotion Unit, Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

Kylie Murphy, PhD, BAppSc(PsychologyHons) BEd(Secondary), as an academic in the School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University

Rodney Pope, PhD, BAppSc(Phty), GradDipPyschStud, is a registered Physiotherapist and Professor of Physiotherapy in the School of Community Health, Charles Sturt University.

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge Mark Filmer for his editorial assistance.

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