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7th Congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Lisbon - 4-7 June, 2005


Background: ProFaNE is an EC-funded network supporting collaboration between researchers in the field of falls injury prevention. One component of ProFaNE concerns psychosocial aspects of falls prevention, which include assessment of fear of falling and attitudes to falls prevention programmes. Findings from members’ collaborative qualitative research on attitudes to falls prevention will be presented.

Methods: We conducted interviews with older people, assessing their beliefs and attitudes regarding falls prevention programmes. Interviews were structured around the Theory of Planned Behaviour, were carried out in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Greece and Italy. The thematic analysis reported here compares the beliefs of those who had taken part in a falls prevention programme and those who had not been offered this option.

Findings: Whilst many may reject the notion that falls are anything to do with them, participants reported being motivated to take part in programmes that are designed to improve strength and balance chiefly by a desire for, and experiences of, immediate benefits (including improved functioning and mobility, enjoyment and increased self-confidence) rather than by fear of falling. The main reported barriers to participation included lack of familiarity with such programmes, concern about exertion, transport and financial obstacles, and lack of motivation.

Conclusions: Falls prevention has negative connotations for many older people. Participation in falls prevention programmes may be enhanced by maximising and promoting their immediate benefits rather than their potential for reducing falls, by removing practical barriers, and by providing opportunities to sample programmes in order to demonstrate their immediate benefits. A focus on exercise as promoting health, fitness and independence may have wider acceptability.

Theses abstracts were prepared by Professor Roger Lemaire. Correspondence should be addressed to EFORT Central Office, Freihofstrasse 22, CH-8700 Küsnacht, Switzerland.