Healthcare providers' perceptions and self-reported fall prevention practices: Findings from a large New York health system

Matthew Lee Smith, Judy A. Stevens, Heidi Ehrenreich, Ashley D. Wilson, Richard J. Schuster, Colleen O'Brien Cherry, Marcia G. Ory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and emergency department visits, and the incidence of falls in the United States is rising as the number of older Americans increases. Research has shown that falls can be reduced by modifying fall-risk factors using multifactorial interventions implemented in clinical settings. However, the literature indicates that many providers feel that they do not know how to conduct fall-risk assessments or do not have adequate knowledge about fall prevention.To help healthcare providers incorporate older adult fall prevention (i.e., falls risk assessment and treatment) into their clinical practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Injury Center has developed the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) tool kit. This study was conducted to identify the practice characteristics and providers' beliefs, knowledge, and fall-related activities before they received training on how to use the STEADI tool kit. Data were collected as part of a larger State Fall Prevention Project funded by CDC's Injury Center. Completed questionnaires were returned by 38 medical providers from 11 healthcare practices within a large New York health system. Healthcare providers ranked falls as the lowest priority of five conditions, after diabetes, cardiovascular disease, mental health, and musculoskeletal conditions. Less than 40% of the providers asked most or all of their older patients if they had fallen during the past 12 months. Less than a quarter referred their older patients to physical therapists for balance or gait training, and <20% referred older patients to community-based fall prevention programs. Less than 16% reported they conducted standardized functional assessments with their older patients at least once a year. These results suggest that implementing the STEADI tool kit in clinical settings could address knowledge gaps and provide the necessary tools to help providers incorporate fall-risk assessment and treatment into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Issue numberAPR
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Margaret Kaniewski, MPH, Public Health Advisor at the CDC, and the staff at the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention, for their significant contributions to this work. We thank Dr. Frank Floyd, and UHS Physician Practices for collecting the study data. Additional thanks are given to Natalie Martin for her contribution to the STEADI implementation and training process. This research was supported by the CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, under Cooperative Agreement Number 1U48 DP001924 with the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health Center for Community Health Development, and by an appointment to the Research Participation Program at the CDC, administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and CDC. Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Smith, Stevens, Ehrenreich, Wilson, Schuster , Cherry and Ory.


  • Clinical practice
  • Fall prevention
  • Fall screening
  • Intervention science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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