Online Program

Making decisions after experiencing a fall: Preliminary survey results with older women in South Carolina

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Caroline D. Bergeron, DrPH, MSc, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Daniela B. Friedman, MSc, PhD, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
S. Melinda Spencer, PhD, MA, Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
DeAnne K. Hilfinger Messias, PhD RN, FAAN, College of Nursing and Women's and Gender Studies Program, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Susan C. Miller, PhD, School of Public Health, Brown University, Warwick, RI
Background: One in three U.S. women aged 65+ experiences a fall each year. This study examined the types of changes older women make after a fall and the factors that influence these decisions.

Methods: We distributed surveys to a convenience sample of older women living independently in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and in non-institutional homes in South Carolina. The survey examined self-rated health, health literacy, frequency and severity of falls, post-fall changes, and demographics. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses were conducted using SPSS Version 22.

Results: Fifty-six women (Mage=82.02; SD=9.16) completed the survey. Close to 70% rated their health as good/very good and 86% reported they never/rarely receive help to read instructions from their doctor/pharmacy. Half reported having fallen only once in the past year. Participants reported making the following changes: being more careful (95%), looking where they are walking (86%), picking up their feet (68%), seeing a doctor (64%), and avoiding places where they might fall (64%). Fall severity was associated with consulting a doctor (p=0.003) and rehabilitation (p=0.006). Higher health literacy was associated with avoiding telling people about the fall (p=0.019) and avoiding help from others (p=0.008).

Discussion: Decisions and changes made after a fall can have a profound effect on how an older woman recovers and maintains her quality of life. Increased awareness of these post-fall changes and factors is needed to help women of all literacy levels make better decisions after a fall. Post-fall changes and factors should also be included in future falls prevention initiatives.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify changes older women make about their health and independence after experiencing a fall. Describe factors that influence these post-fall changes.

Keyword(s): Aging, Decision-Making

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This work is part of my doctoral dissertation. I developed the survey instrument, obtained IRB approval, administered the survey, and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.