A feasibility study to prevent falls in older people who are sight impaired: the VIP2UK randomised controlled trial

Heather Waterman, Claire Ballinger, Caroline Brundle, Sebastien Chastin, Heather Gage, Robert Harper, David Henson, Bob Laventure, Lisa McEvoy, Mark Pilling, Nicola Olleveant, Dawn A Skelton, Penelope Stanford, Chris Todd

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BACKGROUND: Published evaluations of successful interventions to prevent falls in people with sight impairment (SI) are limited. The aim of this feasibility study is to optimise the design and investigation of home safety (HS) and home exercise (HE) programmes to prevent falls in older people with SI.

METHODS: A community-based feasibility study in north-west England comprising a three-arm randomised controlled trial (RCT) allocated participants to (1) a control group receiving usual care and social visits, (2) an experimental group receiving the HS programme and (3) an experimental group receiving the HS + HE programme. Participants were community-dwelling, aged 65 years and older and sight impaired. Primary outcome data on falls were collected continuously over 6 months. Secondary outcomes on physical activity (self-report and instrumented) and adherence were collected at baseline and 3 and 6 months for HE and at 6 months for the HS programme. Costs for the HS and HS + HE groups were calculated from logs of time spent on home visits, telephone calls and travel. The research assistant and statistician were blinded to group allocation.

RESULTS: Altogether, 49 people were recruited over a 9-month period (randomised: 16 to control, 16 to HS, 17 to HS + HE). The interventions were implemented over 6 months by an occupational therapist at a cost per person (pounds sterling, 2011) of £249 (HS) and £674 (HS + HE). Eighty-eight percent (43/49) completed the trial and 6-month follow-up. At 6-month follow-up, 100 % reported partially or completely adhering to HS recommendations but evidence for adherence to HE was equivocal. Although self-reported physical activity increased, instrumented monitoring showed a decrease in walking activity. There were no statistically significant differences in falls between the groups; however, the study was not powered to detect a difference.

CONCLUSION: It is feasible and acceptable for an occupational therapist to deliver HS and HE falls prevention programmes to people with SI living independently in the community. Future studies could access Local Authority Registers of people with SI to improve recruitment rates. Further research is required to identify how to improve adherence to HE and to measure changes in physical activity before conducting a definitive RCT.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN53433311 , registered on 8 May 2014.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2016


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