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      The development of a multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool for demented nursing home patients in the Netherlands


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          Demented nursing home patients are at high risk for falls. Falls and associated injuries can have a considerable influence on the autonomy and quality of life of patients. The prevention of falls among demented patients is therefore an important issue. In order to intervene in an efficient way in this group of patients, it is important to systematically evaluate the fall risk profile of each individual patient so that for each patient tailor-made preventive measures can be taken. Therefore, the objective of the present study is to develop a feasible and evidence based multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool to be used for tailoring preventive interventions to the needs of individual demented patients.


          To develop this multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool we have chosen to combine scientific evidence on the one hand and experts' opinions on the other hand. Firstly, relevant risk factors for falling in elderly persons were gathered from the literature. Secondly, a group of Dutch experts in the field of falls and fall prevention in the elderly were consulted to judge the suitability of these risk factors for use in a multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool for demented nursing home patients. Thirdly, in order to generate a compact list of the most relevant risk factors for falling in demented elderly, all risk factors had to fulfill a set of criteria indicating their relevance for this specific target population. Lastly the final list of risk factors resulting from the above mentioned procedure was presented to the expert group. The members were also asked to give their opinion about the practical use of the tool.


          The multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool we developed includes the following items: previous falls, use of medication, locomotor functions, and (correct) choice and use of assistive and protective devices. The tool is developed for the multidisciplinary teams of the nursing homes.


          This evidence and practice based multidisciplinary fall risk evaluation tool targets the preventive interventions aimed to prevent falls and their negative consequences in demented nursing home patients.

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          Most cited references52

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          Risk factors for falls among elderly persons living in the community.

          To study risk factors for falling, we conducted a one-year prospective investigation, using a sample of 336 persons at least 75 years of age who were living in the community. All subjects underwent detailed clinical evaluation, including standardized measures of mental status, strength, reflexes, balance, and gait; in addition, we inspected their homes for environmental hazards. Falls and their circumstances were identified during bimonthly telephone calls. During one year of follow-up, 108 subjects (32 percent) fell at least once; 24 percent of those who fell had serious injuries and 6 percent had fractures. Predisposing factors for falls were identified in linear-logistic models. The adjusted odds ratio for sedative use was 28.3; for cognitive impairment, 5.0; for disability of the lower extremities, 3.8; for palmomental reflex, 3.0; for abnormalities of balance and gait, 1.9; and for foot problems, 1.8; the lower bounds of the 95 percent confidence intervals were 1 or more for all variables. The risk of falling increased linearly with the number of risk factors, from 8 percent with none to 78 percent with four or more risk factors (P less than 0.0001). About 10 percent of the falls occurred during acute illness, 5 percent during hazardous activity, and 44 percent in the presence of environmental hazards. We conclude that falls among older persons living in the community are common and that a simple clinical assessment can identify the elderly persons who are at the greatest risk of falling.
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            Guideline for the prevention of falls in older persons. American Geriatrics Society, British Geriatrics Society, and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Panel on Falls Prevention.

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              Risk factors for falls in a community-based prospective study of people 70 years and older.

              We investigated factors associated with falls in a community-based prospective study of 761 subjects 70 years and older. The group experienced 507 falls during the year of monitoring. On entry to the study a number of variables had been assessed in each subject. Variables associated with an increased risk of falling differed in men and women. In men, decreased levels of physical activity, stroke, arthritis of the knees, impairment of gait, and increased body sway were associated with an increased risk of falls. In women, the total number of drugs, psychotropic drugs and drugs liable to cause postural hypotension, standing systolic blood pressure of less than 110 mmHg, and evidence of muscle weakness were also associated with an increased risk of falling. Most falls in elderly people are associated with multiple risk factors, many of which are potentially remediable. The possible implications of this in diagnosis and prevention are discussed.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                21 March 2006
                : 6
                : 74
                [1 ]Nursing Home de Riethorst, P.O. Box 35, 4931 AA Geertruidenberg, The Netherlands
                [2 ]iRv, Institute for Rehabilitation Research, P.O. Box 192, 6430 AD Hoensbroek, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Health Care Studies, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
                [4 ]Vivre, Polvertorenstraat 4, 6211 LX Maastricht, The Netherlands
                [5 ]Department of General Practice, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
                [6 ]Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Department Tranzo, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands
                Copyright © 2006 Neyens et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 30 June 2005
                : 21 March 2006
                Research Article

                Public health
                Public health


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