Objectives: To test whether Stepping On, a multifaceted community-based program using a small-group learning environment, is effective in reducing falls in at-risk people living at home.
Design: A randomized trial with subjects followed for 14 months.
Setting: The interventions were conducted in community venues, with a follow-up home visit.
Participants: Three hundred ten community residents aged 70 and older who had had a fall in the previous 12 months or were concerned about falling.
Intervention: The Stepping On program aims to improve fall self-efficacy, encourage behavioral change, and reduce falls. Key aspects of the program are improving lower-limb balance and strength, improving home and community environmental and behavioral safety, encouraging regular visual screening, making adaptations to low vision, and encouraging medication review. Two-hour sessions were conducted weekly for 7 weeks, with a follow-up occupational therapy home visit.
Measurements: The primary outcome measure was falls, ascertained using a monthly calendar mailed by each participant.
Results: The intervention group experienced a 31% reduction in falls (relative risk (RR)=0.69, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.50-0.96; P=.025). This was a clinically meaningful result demonstrating that the Stepping On program was effective for community-residing elderly people. Secondary analysis of subgroups showed that it was particularly effective for men (n=80; RR=0.32, 95% CI=0.17-0.59).
Conclusion: The results of this study renew attention to the idea that cognitive-behavioral learning in a small-group environment can reduce falls. Stepping On offers a successful fall-prevention option.
Copyright 2004 American Geriatrics Society