The lack of health care coverage, low education, low motivation, and inconvenience remain barriers to participating in fall prevention programs, especially among low-income older adults. Low-income status also contributes to negative aging self-perceptions and is associated with a high perceived barrier to care. Existing fall prevention intervention technologies do not enable participants and practitioners to interact and collaborate, even with technologies that bring viable strategies to maintain independence, prevent disability, and increase access to quality care. Research is also limited on the use of technology to enhance motivation and help individuals align their perception with physiological fall risk. We developed a novel, 8-week Physio-Feedback Exercise Program (PEER), which includes (1) technology-based physio-feedback using a real-time portable innovative technology—the BTrackS Balance Tracking System, which is reliable and affordable, allows for home testing, and provides feedback and tracks balance progression; (2) cognitive reframing using the fall risk appraisal matrix; and (3) peer-led exercises focusing on balance, strength training, and incorporating exercises into daily activities.
This study consists of 3 aims. Aim 1 is to examine the effects of the technology-based PEER intervention on fall risk, dynamic balance, and accelerometer-based physical activity (PA). Aim 2 is to examine the effects of the PEER intervention on fall risk appraisal shifting and negative self-perceptions of aging. Aim 3 is to explore participants’ experiences with the PEER intervention and potential barriers to accessing and adopting the technology-based PEER intervention to inform future research.
This is an intention-to-treat, single-blinded, parallel, 2-arm clustered randomized controlled trial study. We will collect data from 340 low-income older adults at baseline (T1) and measure outcomes after program completion (T2) and follow-up at 3 months (T3) and 6 months (T4). Participants will be enrolled if they meet all the following inclusion criteria: aged ≥60 years, cognitively intact, and able to stand without assistance. Exclusion criteria were as follows: a medical condition precluding exercise or PA, currently receiving treatment from a rehabilitation facility, plan to move within 1 year, hospitalized >3 times in the past 12 months, and does not speak English or Spanish.
This study addresses the public health problem by optimizing a customized, technology-driven approach that can operate in low-resource environments with unlimited users to prevent falls and reduce health disparities in low-income older adults. The PEER is a novel intervention that combines concepts of physio-feedback, cognitive reframing, and peer-led exercise by motivating a shift in self-estimation of fall risk to align with physiological fall risk to improve balance, PA, and negative aging self-perception.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT05778604; https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT05778604