Daily surveillance of falls is feasible and reveals a high incidence of falls among older adults

Susan R. Antcliff, Jeremy B. Witchalls, Sarah B. Wallwork, Marijke Welvaert, Gordon S. Waddington

Research output: Contribution to journalOther Journal Articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To ensure accurate data capture for a fall study through a system of daily contact with participants. Methods: Fifty-eight adults older than 60 years of age and living independently in the community in Canberra, Australia, were recruited for a prospective fall study. We adopted a system of daily contact with study participants for at least 12 months, either by email or by text, asking whether they had suffered a fall in the previous 24 h. At the final testing session, we asked participants whether they had experienced a fall during the previous twelve months. Results: We found no evidence that the daily reporting regime led to excess participant attrition. Only three participants withdrew over the course of the study, and the burden of responding was not cited as a factor in any of these cases. Of the 55 participants who completed the full twelve-month study period, 38 (69%) experienced at least one fall. We also identified inconsistencies between recall of falls occurring during the last twelve months of the study and the contemporaneously recorded data. Conclusions: Previous studies have found that increasing the reporting demands on fall study participants will lead to higher attrition. This study demonstrates that it is possible to maintain participant engagement and minimise attrition with appropriate design of reporting procedures. We confirm existing evidence regarding the unreliability of retrospective recall of falls. The study highlights the importance of comprehensive and accurate data capture and points to the possibility of under-reporting of fall incidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-205
Number of pages5
JournalAustralasian Journal on Ageing
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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