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Older people’s views in relation to risk of falling and need for intervention: a meta-ethnography


E. McInnes: e-mail:


mcinnes e., seers k. & tutton l. (2011) Older people’s views in relation to risk of falling and need for intervention: a meta-ethnography. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(12), 2525–2536.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a meta-ethnography of qualitative studies of older peoples’ views on risk of falling and need for intervention.

Background.  Falls and falls-related injuries in older people are worldwide problems. A conceptual understanding of older people’s views about falls risk and need for intervention is useful for understanding factors likely to impact on acceptance of risk and recommended interventions.

Data Sources.  Seven electronic databases were searched 1999–2009. Reference lists of included articles were screened for eligible papers.

Review Methods.  Assessment of quality was carried out. Themes and concepts were extracted using a meta-ethnographic approach to compare similarities and differences across the retrieved studies. A line of argument was developed to produce an explanatory framework of the extracted themes and concepts.

Results.  Eleven relevant qualitative research articles of reasonable quality were identified. Six key concepts were identified: beyond personal control; rationalizing; salience; life-change and identity; taking control and self-management. A line of argument synthesis describes how older people approach self-appraisal of falls risk and intervention need, and how they cope and adapt to falls risk and intervention need.

Conclusion.  In response to having an elevated risk status and perceived associations with frailty and impact on an independent life-style, some prefer to adapt to this reality by taking control and implementing self-management strategies. Healthcare professionals should take into account beliefs about risk and negotiate choices for intervention, recognizing that some individuals prefer to drive the decision-making process to preserve identity as a competent and independent person.