Purpose: Our study identified factors common to a variety of populations and settings that may promote or inhibit uptake and adherence to falls-related interventions.
Design and methods: Semistructured interviews to assess perceived advantages and barriers to taking part in falls-related interventions were carried out in six European countries with 69 people aged 68 to 97 years. The sample was selected to include people with very different experiences of participation or nonparticipation in falls-related interventions, but all individuals were asked about interventions that included strength and balance training.
Results: Attitudes were similar in all countries and contexts. People were motivated to participate in strength and balance training by a wide range of perceived benefits (interest and enjoyment, improved health, mood, and independence) and not just reduction of falling risk. Participation also was encouraged by a personal invitation from a health practitioner and social approval from family and friends. Barriers to participation included denial of falling risk, the belief that no additional falls-prevention measures were necessary, practical barriers to attendance at groups (e.g., transport, effort, and cost), and a dislike of group activities.
Implications: Because many older people reject the idea that they are at risk of falling, the uptake of strength and balance training programs may be promoted more effectively by maximizing and emphasizing their multiple positive benefits for health and well-being. A personal invitation from a health professional to participate is important, and it also may be helpful to provide home-based programs for those who dislike or find it difficult to attend groups.