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Application of evidence-based fall-prevention strategies to culturally and linguistically diverse older adult populations in Australia

People from culturally and linguistically diverse populations will represent an increasing percentage of Australia’s older adult demographic in the coming years. There is no information about how older people from these groups perceive the problem of falls or how they will respond to fall-prevention interventions. This study examined perceptions regarding falls, strategies for preventing falls, barriers to participation in fall-prevention strategies, and the response of an exercise- and education-based fall-prevention programme among older adults from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living in Australia. Older adults fromCambodian-, Croatian-, Turkish and Arabic-speaking populations living in the southeast suburbs of Melbourne, Australia took part in a 15-week combined exercise and education programme with multidisciplinary input from community healthcare providers. Pre- and post-tests were designed to assess past experience of falling, daily routine, selfperceived risk of falling, self-reported awareness of interventions, strategies believed to be effective forpreventing falls and barriers to using these strategies. The participants initially felt that they knew how to prevent falls, and that strategies such as ‘being careful’ and ‘using mobility supports’were the most effective means of preventing them. Following participation in the intervention programme, they recognised the importance of exercise-based interventionsin preventing falls, but there was no immediate change in the rate of falls or participation in activities of daily living. The programme may havechanged attitudes toward s exercise as an effective means of preventing falls, but further research isrequired to determine whether the benefits of interventions developed and tested among homogenous populations translate to the diverse patient groups that are increasingly encountered in our communities.

Author(s): Terry P Haines, Eva Pausenberger

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