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Abstract

Introduction: Falls are the leading cause of death and disability among people 65 years of age and older. Likewise, falls have psychological consequences which often lead to avoidance of activities, fear of falling, and further disabilities. Even though the impact of falls on one’s daily life and independence are substantial, evidence suggests that falls can be prevented by multi-factorial assessments and client-specific interventions. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine (a) perceived knowledge of falls, (b) reported confidence in fall prevention, (c) perceived likelihood of implementing falls screening recommendations, (d) reported fear of falling, and (e) perceived value and satisfaction among community-dwelling older adults who attended an interdisciplinary falls screening and education event. Methods: An interdisciplinary group of professionals from behavioral sciences, family medicine, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, and physical therapy screened 33 community dwelling older adult participants (66-84 years of age) using multi-factorial assessments and discipline-specific screening tools. Individualized recommendations were provided to each participant in verbal and written formats. Participants then completed a questionnaire at the conclusion of the event regarding their perceptions of knowledge gained about falls, confidence in preventing falls, perceived likelihood of implementing fall screening recommendations, fear of falling, and overall feedback regarding the event. Results: The majority of the participants indicated increased perceived knowledge of falls, confidence in preventing falls, and perceived high likelihood of implementing recommendations, along with decreased fear of falling. The majority of the participants also found the event to be valuable (85%), enjoyable (94%), and easy to understand (100%). Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that participants found this falls screening event to be valuable and improved their knowledge regarding falls, as well as their confidence in being able to prevent falls. This study highlights the potential value of an interdisciplinary team approach to increase knowledge, enhance prevention, and decrease fear of falling in community dwelling older adults.

Author Bio(s)

Lisa Jean Knecht-Sabres, DHS, OTR/L, is a Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at Midwestern University. Her clinical expertise has focused on enhancing occupational performance for older adults. She has published on topics related to older adults, experiential learning, interprofessional education, and enhancing readiness for clinical practice.

Timothy Hanke, PT, PhD, is a Professor at Midwestern University. His clinical experience has focused on geriatric and neurological physical therapy. Dr. Hanke has published on topics related to balance, falls, and mobility in older adults and in persons with stroke.

Michelle M. Lee, PhD, ABPP, is a Professor and Associate Program Director in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Midwestern University. She is Board Certified in Clinical Psychology. Her clinical experience has focused on psychological issues in later life. She has co-authored several scholarly publications.

Minetta Wallingford, DrOT, OTR/L, is a retired Associate Professor from the Midwestern University Occupational Therapy program. She has extensive experience in teaching and coordinating fieldwork education for academic occupational therapy programs. She has presented and published nationally on topics related to clinical education, evidence-based practice, and geriatrics.

Lisa Palmisano, PharmD, BCACP, is an Associate Professor at Midwestern University. Her clinical expertise has focused on clinical pharmacy and interprofessional education. She served as the Medical Director of the COVID Vaccine Clinic. She is dedicated to the education and growth of students, patients, and healthcare providers.

Teresa Elliott-Burke PT, DPT, MHS, WCS, is an Associate Professor and Academic Coordinator at Midwestern University. Dr. Elliott-Burke has more than 40 years of patient care and managerial experience in outpatient physical therapy. Her research interest is in pelvic girdle dysfunction, real-time ultrasound imaging and healthcare business issues.

Kimberly A. Huntington-Alfano, D.O. is a Clinical Associate Professor for the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and Medical Director of the Multispecialty Clinics at Midwestern University. She is a board-certified family physician.

Susanne Higgins OTD, OTR/L, CHT is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Midwestern University and a Certified Hand Therapist. She volunteers for the Education Division of the American Society of Hand Therapists. She presents continuing education courses related to upper extremity rehabilitation.

Thomas Dillon, PT, DPT, OCS is Clinical Assistant Professor and at Midwestern University and provides physical therapy services at the Physical Therapy Institute at the Midwestern University Multispecialty Clinic. He is board certified in orthopedics.

Jennifer L. Mazan, Pharm.D. is an Associate Professor at Midwestern University. Her clinical experience focuses on clinical pharmacy. She also serves as the course director for several clinical skills courses. Her research interests include patient communication and education, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Midwestern University's College of Health Sciences Geriatric Research and Education Facilitation Grant for their support in this study.

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