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.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.