November 23, 2011

Multimedia Fall-Prevention Program Helps Older Adults

Tailoring fall-prevention education improves older adults' knowledge of fall threats and makes them more likely to perform fall-preventing behaviors, according to a recent study.
Researchers at Wayne State University in Detroit and the University of Connecticut in Farmington conducted a randomized trial to determine whether multimedia programs using different instructional styles would encourage changes in behavior to prevent falls and increase participants' awareness of fall threats.

For the study, researchers randomized 53 community-dwelling older adults into three groups — two educational groups and a control. One educational group's intervention was tailored by authenticity and the other by motivation. All participants took a pretest, then viewed five pairs of vignettes during a 30-minute educational session. After watching each pair, the participant was asked to identify a fall risk the vignettes had in common. For those who were unable to name the fall threats, the multimedia program would replay the vignettes or play audio peer modeling, with older adult actors listing fall risks.

The authenticity group's multimedia program highlighted the realism of the content by matching each vignette to the participant's lifestyle, including living environment, use of mobility aids and ability to complete activities of daily living. The motivational intervention program included a clear statement of program goals and emphasis on positives of completing the program, and participants selected the topics to be addressed. Study participants could choose four to 10 situations from a list of 20 to address, such as a grocery store, public transportation or an airport.

All participants underwent a follow-up test one month later given by primary investigator Stacey L. Schepens, OTR, PhD, and the participants kept a fall diary for one month.

Researchers found seniors in the authenticity and motivational groups showed significantly increased knowledge of fall threats, with the authenticity group naming about 23 risks in the post-test versus about 16 in the pretest. The authenticity group showed similar increases (21 in the post-test versus 17 in the pretest). The control group stayed level, identifying about 16 risks in each test.

As for new fall-preventing behaviors, the number reported by the motivational group (mean of 7.5) was significantly greater than those reported by either the authenticity group (mean of 4.3) or the control (2.1).


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