Home Health & Hospice

Researchers Commit $30 Million to Fall Prevention Study

Homecare Insider, June 9, 2014

Fall-related injuries continue to plague the aging population, but researchers are striving to combat the ubiquitous problem through a new five-year, $30 million study.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) are funding a nationwide study on the “an evidence-based, multifactorial, patient-centered intervention to reduce the risk of serious fall injuries among non-institutionalized older persons,” according to a project summary released by PCORI.

Despite existing research that identifies viable intervention strategies, roughly one in every three adults over the age 65 suffers moderate to severe injuries from falls, which can lead to further declines in health and loss of independence, according to a statement from PCORI. Challenges contributing to the prevalence of such injuries include many older patients’ reluctance to disclose previous falls, and low screening rates for this problem during primary care visits.

“What’s lacking is evidence on the optimal combination of interventions to meet patients’ individual needs and circumstances and how best to deliver tailored plans,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH in the statement. “Older adults and their caregivers and healthcare providers are essential partners in the effort to answer these questions.”

To model the importance of such collaboration, PCORI and NIA have enlisted investigators, patients, and stakeholders from 10 healthcare systems and each of the 14 U.S. Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers to participate in the study.

The trial—which will include 6,000 adults ages 75 and older who have one or more risk factors for falls—will test the effectiveness of deploying nurses or nurse practitioners trained as “falls care managers” to develop and deliver prevention plans tailored to the specific risks of each individual. The managers will then monitor patients’ outcomes through consultation with their primary care providers. Finally, researchers will compare the rate of fall-related injuries among study participants receiving this experimental approach  to the injury rate among similar patients who receive only risk assessments and educational material from their primary care physicians.