Program sustainability of a community-based intervention to prevent falls among older Australians
journal contributionposted on 01.09.2004, 00:00 authored by Lisa BarnettLisa Barnett, E Van Beurden, E Eakin, J Beard, U Dietrich, B Newman
Multi-strategy interventions have been demonstrated to prevent falls among older people, but studies have not explored their sustainability. This paper investigates program sustainability of Stay on Your Feet (SOYF), an Australian multi-strategy falls prevention program (1992–1996) that achieved a significant reduction in falls-related hospital admissions. A series of surveys assessed recall, involvement and current falls prevention activities, 5 years post-SOYF, in multiple original SOYF stakeholder groups within the study area [general practitioners (GPs), pharmacists, community health (CH) staff, shire councils (SCs) and access committees (ACs)]. Focus groups explored possible behavioural changes in the target group. Surveys were mailed, except to CH staff and ACs, who participated in guided group sessions and were contacted via the telephone, respectively. Response rates were: GPs, 67% (139/209); pharmacists, 79% (53/67); CH staff, 63% (129/204); SCs, 90% (9/10); ACs, 80% (8/10). There were 73 older people in eight focus groups. Of 117 GPs who were practising during SOYF, 80% recalled SOYF and 74% of these reported an influence on their practice. Of 46 pharmacists operating a business during SOYF, 45% had heard of SOYF and 79% of these reported being ‘somewhat’ influenced. Of 76 community health staff (59%) in the area at that time, 99% had heard of SOYF and 82% reported involvement. Four SCs retained a SOYF resource, but none thought current activities were related. Seven ACs reported involvement, but no activities were sustained. Thirty-five focus group participants (48%) remembered SOYF and reported a variety of SOYF-initiated behaviour changes. Program sustainability was clearly demonstrated among health practitioners. Further research is required to assess long-term effect sustainability.