Reconstructing the fall: individual, behavioural and contextual factors associated with falls in individuals with intellectual disability
Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research
How to Cite
Cahill, S., Stancliffe, R. J., Clemson, L. and Durvasula, S. (2013), Reconstructing the fall: individual, behavioural and contextual factors associated with falls in individuals with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. doi: 10.1111/jir.12015
- Article first published online: 4 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 DEC 2012
- fall reconstruction;
- intellectual disability;
- qualitative research;
- risk assessment
Falls are a significant and recurrent problem for individuals with intellectual disability (ID). There has been little exploration of the fall event from the perspective of the individual who falls or their carers. Research has focused predominantly on personal risk factors, leaving the behavioural and contextual analysis of falls much less understood. This study aimed to identify these additional factors as well as briefly explore the fall experience for individuals and their carers.
A qualitative design was used incorporating fall reconstructions and ethnographic-style interviews conducted in the home setting. Nine people with ID and their carers/family member participated: five pairs were living at home and four were in out-of-family-home settings. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and major themes identified via thematic analysis.
We identified 17 themes that contributed to falls and fell under the three headings of individual, behavioural or contextual factors. Themes include decreased physical capacity, unsafe behaviours, limited hazard awareness and the impact of others in the home on an individual's fall behaviours. Additionally, families and individuals identified a number of consequences and adaptations which they implemented to alleviate possible fall impact.
Qualitative interviews, observational methods and carer assistance are valuable in offering insight into understanding the individual, behavioural and contextual factors associated with falls in people with ID. The fall reconstruction technique may be a useful supplement when evaluating intrinsic risk in programmes designed to reduce falls.