Engaging community-dwelling older adults in fall prevention programs

Authors Meike van Scherpenseel, Lidia van Veenendaal, Lennie Donné, Saskia te Velde, Amber Ronteltap
Published in Frontiers in Public Health
Publication date 2023
Research groups Proactive care for older people living at home, Innovation in Healthcare Processes in Pharmacology, Innovation of Movement Care
Type Article


Introduction: Fall rates and fall-related injuries among community-dwelling older adults (≥65 years) are expected to increase rapidly, due to the aging population worldwide. Fall prevention programs (FPPs), consisting of strength and balance exercises, have been proven effective in reducing fall rates among older adults. However, these FPPs have not reached their full potential as most programs are under-enrolled. Therefore, this study aims to identify promising strategies that promote participation in FPPs among community-dwelling older adults. Methods: This is an exploratory qualitative study. Previously, barriers and facilitators for participation in FPPs by older adults had been identified. Next, six strategies had been designed using the Intervention Mapping approach: (1) reframing; (2) informing about benefits; (3) raising awareness of risks; (4) involving social environment; (5) offering tailored intervention; (6) arranging practicalities. Strategies were validated during semi-structured interviews with communitydwelling older adults (n = 12) at risk of falling. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed following a qualitative thematic methodology, with a hybrid approach. Results: All strategies were considered important by at least some of the respondents. However, two strategies stood out: (1) reframing ‘aging’ and ‘fall prevention’: respondents preferred to be approached differently, taking a ‘life course’ perspective about falls, and avoiding confronting words; and (2) ‘informing about benefits’ (e.g., ‘living independently for longer’); which was mentioned to improve the understanding of the relevance of participating in FPPs. Other strategies were considered important to take into account too, but opinions varied more strongly. Discussion: This study provides insight into potential strategies to stimulate older adults to participate in FPPs. Results suggest that reframing ‘aging’ and ‘fall prevention’ may facilitate the dialogue about fall prevention, by communicating differently about the topic, for example ‘staying fit and healthy’, while focusing on the benefits of participating in FPPs. Gaining insight into the strategies’ effectiveness and working mechanisms is an area for future research. This could lead to practical recommendations and help professionals to enhance older adults’ participation in FPPs. Currently, the strategies are further developed to be applied and evaluated for effectiveness in multiple field labs in a central Dutch region (Utrecht).

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Frontiers in Public Health
Key words fall prevention programs, community-dwelling older adults, strategies, participation, implementation

Meike van Scherpenseel

Meike van Scherpenseel

Meike van Scherpenseel

  • PhD candidate
  • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care