Purpose: Falls are common in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), yet there are a few targeted fall prevention programs. Existing programs report a high dropout rate and a low adherence, which may be due to a mismatch between program characteristics and participants preferences. To clarify a possible discrepancy, this study investigates the views and opinions of persons with MS on fall prevention programs.
Methods: Two focus groups (n = 11) were conducted with people with MS who have a history of falls, near falls or who are concerned about their balance/falling risk. The data were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach.
Results: Participants preferred short-term programs taking place in rehabilitation clinics, or physiotherapy or occupational therapy practices. They believed that the awareness for fall prevention needs to be raised among healthcare professionals. Participants expected better consultation from physio and occupational therapists regarding mobility aids and home modification. The participants wanted the programs to be practical, in-person and in groups. Online interventions were strongly rejected. Further, participants wanted balance/strength exercises and the inclusion of falling techniques in programs. The competence of knowing and accepting capacity may be an important factor in preventing falls.
Conclusions: Investigating the views and opinions of persons with MS on fall prevention programs gave important information which can be used to inform the development of such programs.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONPeople with multiple sclerosis (MS) prefer short-term fall prevention programs that are practical, in-person and in groups. Online interventions were strongly rejected.People with MS want balance/strength exercises and falling techniques included within fall prevention programs.People with MS believe that awareness regarding falls prevention needs to be raised among healthcare professionals. Also, services regarding mobility aids and home modification from physio and occupational therapists are currently unsatisfactory.People with MS believe that competence in knowing and accepting their capacity to engage in activities may be a decisive factor in preventing falls.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; accident prevention; accidental falls; focus groups; physical therapy modalities; qualitative research.