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Keywords:

  • Falls;
  • older women;
  • fall prevention

Abstract

Purpose: Researchers have tested interventions to prevent recurrent falls for older people without exploring their intentions to prevent another fall. Lack of knowledge about such intentions is an impediment to intervention effectiveness. The purpose was to describe intentions to prevent another fall as discerned during a study with older homebound women.

Methods: Data were obtained during a series of four in-home interviews over 18 months with monthly telephone contacts between interviews; fall history was updated at each contact. A descriptive phenomenological method was used to analyze data.

Findings: Of the 40 women, 36 (aged 85 to 98 years) had fallen at home at least once before enrolling in the study, or had a subsequent or initial fall during the study. The overall intention was reducing my risk of falling again at home, with its components figuring out the reason that I fell and changing my ways to reduce my risk of falling again at home. Most women explained reasons for a fall and voiced intentions to prevent a similar fall. Women who viewed falls as unexpected events were uncertain that they could prevent a fall or felt unable to do so and voiced few preventive intentions. A few women voiced generalized preventive intentions to change health-related behaviors or habits.

Conclusions: Most intentions were tied directly to the situation in which a fall had occurred. Such specificity could limit effectiveness of personal efforts to prevent falls in other situations.

Clinical Relevance: Practitioners should converse with older women who have fallen about their intentions to prevent another fall and weigh the need to help them generalize both the risk of falling again and their risk reduction intentions.