Evaluation of the effect of patient education on rates of falls in older hospital patients: Description of a randomised controlled trial

School of Primary Health Care, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.
BMC Geriatrics (Impact Factor: 1.68). 05/2009; 9(1):14. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2318-9-14
Source: PubMed


Accidental falls by older patients in hospital are one of the most commonly reported adverse events. Falls after discharge are also common. These falls have enormous physical, psychological and social consequences for older patients, including serious physical injury and reduced quality of life, and are also a source of substantial cost to health systems worldwide. There have been a limited number of randomised controlled trials, mainly using multifactorial interventions, aiming to prevent older people falling whilst inpatients. Trials to date have produced conflicting results and recent meta-analyses highlight that there is still insufficient evidence to clearly identify which interventions may reduce the rate of falls, and falls related injuries, in this population.
A prospective randomised controlled trial (n = 1206) is being conducted at two hospitals in Australia. Patients are eligible to be included in the trial if they are over 60 years of age and they, or their family or guardian, give written consent. Participants are randomised into three groups. The control group continues to receive usual care. Both intervention groups receive a specifically designed patient education intervention on minimising falls in addition to usual care. The education is delivered by Digital Video Disc (DVD) and written workbook and aims to promote falls prevention activities by participants. One of the intervention groups also receives follow up education training visits by a health professional. Blinded assessors conduct baseline and discharge assessments and follow up participants for 6 months after discharge. The primary outcome measure is falls by participants in hospital. Secondary outcome measures include falls at home after discharge, knowledge of falls prevention strategies and motivation to engage in falls prevention activities after discharge. All analyses will be based on intention to treat principle.
This trial will examine the effect of a single intervention (specifically designed patient education) on rates of falls in older patients in hospital and after discharge. The results will provide robust recommendations for clinicians and researchers about the role of patient education in this population. The study has the potential to identify a new intervention that may reduce rates of falls in older hospital patients and could be readily duplicated and applied in a wide range of clinical settings.

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    • "These were compared to usual care alone. The content of the patient education programs was developed based upon the health-belief model [16,17]. The materials only group was not different to the usual care control in any of the falls outcomes considered and was not considered further in this economic evaluation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Falls are one of the most frequently occurring adverse events that impact upon the recovery of older hospital inpatients. Falls can threaten both immediate and longer-term health and independence. There is need to identify cost-effective means for preventing falls in hospitals. Hospital-based falls prevention interventions tested in randomized trials have not yet been subjected to economic evaluation. Incremental cost-effectiveness analysis was undertaken from the health service provider perspective, over the period of hospitalization (time horizon) using the Australian Dollar (A$) at 2008 values. Analyses were based on data from a randomized trial among n = 1,206 acute and rehabilitation inpatients. Decision tree modeling with three-way sensitivity analyses were conducted using burden of disease estimates developed from trial data and previous research. The intervention was a multimedia patient education program provided with trained health professional follow-up shown to reduce falls among cognitively intact hospital patients. The short-term cost to a health service of one cognitively intact patient being a faller could be as high as A$14,591 (2008). The education program cost A$526 (2008) to prevent one cognitively intact patient becoming a faller and A$294 (2008) to prevent one fall based on primary trial data. These estimates were unstable due to high variability in the hospital costs accrued by individual patients involved in the trial. There was a 52% probability the complete program was both more effective and less costly (from the health service perspective) than providing usual care alone. Decision tree modeling sensitivity analyses identified that when provided in real life contexts, the program would be both more effective in preventing falls among cognitively intact inpatients and cost saving where the proportion of these patients who would otherwise fall under usual care conditions is at least 4.0%. This economic evaluation was designed to assist health care providers decide in what circumstances this intervention should be provided. If the proportion of cognitively intact patients falling on a ward under usual care conditions is 4% or greater, then provision of the complete program in addition to usual care will likely both prevent falls and reduce costs for a health service. Trial registration Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register: ACTRN12608000015347.
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    • "This investigation included a sample of 103 participants taking part in larger randomised controlled trial at a tertiary hospital in Brisbane, Australia. The larger trial investigated a multi-media patient education program aimed to prevent in-hospital falls amongst hospitalised older adults[17]. The participants in this investigation included a convenience sample of those who were considered by clinical staff to be likely to require a period of subacute in-hospital rehabilitation prior to discharge (with a length of stay greater than two weeks). "
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