Main Article Content
Falls in older adults are associated with increased healthcare costs. Falls may be prevented or minimised with multifactorial interventions including exercise and behavioural modification.
Objectives and Approach
To describe the reach of the scale-up of Stepping On, a fall prevention program targeting community-dwellers aged 65 years and older in NSW, Australia; and fall-related ambulance service use and fall-related hospitalisations after scale-up. Routinely-collected data on program reach, fall-related ambulance usage and fall-related hospital admissions in NSW residents aged ≥65 years between 2009 and 2015 were compared within Statistical Local Areas prior to and following implementation of Stepping On using multilevel models.
From 2009 to 2014 the program was delivered in 1,077 sites to 10,096 people with an average (SD) age of 81.0 (7.2) years. Rates of fall-related ambulance use and hospital admissions per 100-person-years were 1-2 in people aged 66-74, 4-5 in people aged 75-84 and 12-13 in people aged ≥85. These rates increased over time (p<.001). Overall, the interaction between time and program delivery was not significant for fall-related ambulance use or hospital admissions. The time-related increase in fall-related ambulance usage in people aged 75-84 years may have been moderated by Stepping On (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.93–1.00, p=.045).
Conclusion / Implications
There was no indication of either a reduced rate of fall-related ambulance use or hospital admissions across the entire sample. There was a suggestion of a reduction in ambulance call-outs for falls in people aged 75-84. The lack of a detectable impact on fall-related health service usage may be due to the use of routinely collected data not intended for research purposes or inability to remove those who would be ineligible for Stepping On from the data analyses. Increasing the program reach and targeting groups contributing most to health service utilisation may improve program outcomes.
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