Is fear of falling key to identifying gait and balance abnormalities in community-dwelling older adults? Protocol of a mixed-methods approach

Lewis McColl*, Peter McMeekin, Marie Poole, Steve W Parry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: The ageing population poses an increasing burden to public health systems, particularly as a result of falls. Falls have been associated with poor gait and balance, as measured by commonly used clinical tests for poor gait and balance. Falls in older adults have the potential to lead to long-term issues with mobility and a fear of falling (FoF). FoF is measured by a variety of instruments; the Falls Efficacy Scale International (FES-I) version is widely used within clinical and research arenas. The ability of the FoF, as measured by the FES-I to predict gait and balance abnormalities (GABAb) has not previously been measured; this study aims to be the first to investigate this prospective relationship. Methods and analyses: To investigate the ability of the FES-I to predict GABAb a mixed-methods approach will be used, including quantitative, qualitative and health economics approaches. Initially the ability of the FES-I to identify poor gait and balance will be investigated, along with whether the measure is able to assess change in gait and balance in response to exercise training. The ability of an online FES-I tool to assess poor gait and balance in an alternative pre-existing online strength and balance programme will also be investigated. Interviews will be carried out to investigate participant experiences and motivations of those that are offered Age UK Strength and Balance Training, along with the views of healthcare professionals and Age UK staff involved within the process. Ethics and dissemination: NHS REC Approval has been granted (IRAS ID 314705). Study participation is voluntary; participants will be provided with all necessary information within the participant information sheet, with written consent being sought. Study findings will be disseminated through manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, at scientific conferences and in a short report to participants and the funding body.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere067040
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ Open
Volume12
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022

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