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Open Access Highly Accessed Systematic review

Factors influencing the implementation of fall-prevention programmes: a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies

Sue Child1*, Victoria Goodwin1, Ruth Garside23, Tracey Jones-Hughes4, Kate Boddy1 and Ken Stein1

Author Affiliations

1 PenCLAHRC, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

2 European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

3 Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, UK

4 PenCLAHRC, University of Exeter Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

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Implementation Science 2012, 7:91  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-91

Published: 14 September 2012

Abstract

Background

More than a third of people over the age of 65 years fall each year. Falling can lead to a reduction in quality of life, mortality, and a risk of prolonged hospitalisation. Reducing and preventing falls has become an international health priority. To help understand why research evidence has often not been translated into changes in clinical practice, we undertook a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research in order to identify what factors serve as barriers and facilitators to the successful implementation of fall-prevention programmes.

Methods

We conducted a review of literature published between 1980 and January 2012 for qualitative research studies that examined barriers and facilitators to the effective implementation of fall-prevention interventions among community-dwelling older people and healthcare professionals. Two reviewers independently screened studies for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed methodological quality according to predefined criteria. Findings were synthesised using meta-ethnography.

Results

Of the 5010 articles identified through database searching, 19 were included in the review. Analysis of the 19 studies revealed limited information about the mechanisms by which barriers to implementation of fall-prevention interventions had been overcome. Data synthesis produced three overarching concepts: (1) practical considerations, (2) adapting for community, and (3) psychosocial. A line of argument synthesis describes the barriers and facilitators to the successful implementation of fall-prevention programmes. These concepts show that the implementation of fall-prevention programmes is complex and multifactorial. This is the first systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies to examine factors influencing the implementation of fall-prevention programmes from the perspectives of both the healthcare professional and the community-dwelling older person.

Conclusions

The current literature on barriers and facilitators to the implementation of fall-prevention programmes examines a variety of interventions. However, the ways in which the interventions are reported suggests there are substantial methodological challenges that often inhibit implementation into practice. We recommend that successful implementation requires individuals, professionals, and organisations to modify established behaviours, thoughts, and practice. The issues identified through this synthesis need to be fully considered and addressed if fall-prevention programmes are to be successfully implemented into clinical practice.

Keywords:
Fall prevention; Systematic review; Meta-ethnography; Implementation