Older people's views in relation to risk of falling and need for intervention: a meta-ethnography

J Adv Nurs. 2011 Dec;67(12):2525-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05707.x. Epub 2011 Jun 1.


Aim: This paper is a report of a meta-ethnography of qualitative studies of older peoples' views on risk of falling and need for intervention.

Background: Falls and falls-related injuries in older people are worldwide problems. A conceptual understanding of older people's views about falls risk and need for intervention is useful for understanding factors likely to impact on acceptance of risk and recommended interventions.

Data sources: Seven electronic databases were searched 1999-2009. Reference lists of included articles were screened for eligible papers.

Review methods: Assessment of quality was carried out. Themes and concepts were extracted using a meta-ethnographic approach to compare similarities and differences across the retrieved studies. A line of argument was developed to produce an explanatory framework of the extracted themes and concepts.

Results: Eleven relevant qualitative research articles of reasonable quality were identified. Six key concepts were identified: beyond personal control; rationalizing; salience; life-change and identity; taking control and self-management. A line of argument synthesis describes how older people approach self-appraisal of falls risk and intervention need, and how they cope and adapt to falls risk and intervention need.

Conclusion: In response to having an elevated risk status and perceived associations with frailty and impact on an independent life-style, some prefer to adapt to this reality by taking control and implementing self-management strategies. Healthcare professionals should take into account beliefs about risk and negotiate choices for intervention, recognizing that some individuals prefer to drive the decision-making process to preserve identity as a competent and independent person.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Accidents, Home / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Home / psychology
  • Accidents, Home / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Decision Making
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Care