Translating evidence-based falls prevention into clinical practice in nursing facilities: Results and lessons from a quality improvement collaborative

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2006 Sep;54(9):1414-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2006.00853.x.


Objectives: To describe the changes in process of care before and after an evidence-based fall reduction quality improvement collaborative in nursing facilities.

Design: Natural experiment with nonparticipating facilities serving as controls.

Setting: Community nursing homes.

Participants: Thirty-six participating and 353 nonparticipating nursing facilities in North Carolina.

Intervention: Two in-person learning sessions, monthly teleconferences, and an e-mail discussion list over 9 months. The change package emphasized screening, labeling, and risk-factor reduction.

Measurements: Compliance was measured using facility self-report and chart abstraction (n = 832) before and after the intervention. Fall rates as measured using the Minimum Data Set (MDS) were compared with those of nonparticipating facilities as an exploratory outcome.

Results: Self-reported compliance with screening, labeling, and risk-factor reduction approached 100%. Chart abstraction revealed only modest improvements in screening (51% to 68%, P < .05), risk-factor reduction (4% to 7%, P = .30), and medication assessment (2% to 6%, P = .34). There was a significant increase in vitamin D prescriptions (40% to 48%, P=.03) and decrease in sedative-hypnotics (19% to 12%, P = .04) but no change in benzodiazepine, neuroleptic, or calcium use. No significant changes in proportions of fallers or fall rates were observed according to chart abstraction (28.6% to 37.5%, P = .17), MDS (18.2% to 15.4%, P = .56), or self-report (6.1-5.6 falls/1,000 bed days, P = .31).

Conclusion: Multiple-risk-factor reduction tasks are infrequently implemented, whereas screening tasks appear more easily modifiable in a real-world setting. Substantial differences between self-reported practice and medical record documentation require that additional data sources be used to assess the change-in-care processes resulting from quality improvement programs. Interventions to improve interdisciplinary collaboration need to be developed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care*