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Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/JPT.0b013e3181ff23cc
Research Reports

Application of a Fall Screening Algorithm Stratified Fall Risk But Missed Preventive Opportunities in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Prospective Study

Muir, Susan W. PT, PhD1; Berg, Katherine PT, PhD2; Chesworth, Bert PT, PhD3; Klar, Neil PhD1; Speechley, Mark PhD1

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Objectives: Evaluate the ability of the American and British Geriatrics Society fall prevention guideline's screening algorithm to identify and stratify future fall risk in community-dwelling older adults.

Methods: Prospective cohort of community-dwelling older adults (n = 117) aged 65 to 90 years. Fall history, balance, and gait measured during a comprehensive geriatric assessment at baseline. Falls data were collected monthly for 1 year. The outcomes of any fall and any injurious fall were evaluated.

Results: The algorithm stratified participants into 4 hierarchal risk categories. Fall risk was 33% and 68% for the “no intervention” and “comprehensive fall evaluation required” groups respectively. The relative risk estimate for falling comparing participants in the 2 intervention groups was 2.08 (95% CI 1.42–3.05) for any fall and 2.60 (95% CI 1.53–4.42) for any injurious fall. Prognostic accuracy values were: sensitivity of 0.50 (95% CI 0.36–0.64) and specificity of 0.82 (95% CI 0.70–0.90) for any fall; and sensitivity of 0.56 (95% CI 0.38–0.72) and specificity of 0.78 (95% CI 0.67–0.86) for any injurious fall.

Conclusions: The algorithm was able to identify and stratify fall risk for each fall outcome, though the values of prognostic accuracy demonstrate moderate clinical utility. The recommendations of fall evaluation for individuals in the highest risk groups appear supported though the recommendation of no intervention in the lowest risk groups may not address their needs for fall prevention interventions. Further evaluation of the algorithm is recommended to refine the identification of fall risk in community-dwelling older adults.

Copyright © 2010 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association


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