Exploring Older Adult ED Fall Patients’ Understanding of Their Fall: A Qualitative Study

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We sought to understand older patients’ perspectives about their fall, fall risk factors, and attitude toward emergency department (ED) fall-prevention interventions.


We conducted semistructured interviews between July 2015 and January 2016 of community-dwelling, nondemented patients in the ED, who presented with a fall to an urban, teaching hospital. Interviews were halted once we achieve thematic saturation with the data coded and categorized into themes.


Of the 63 patients interviewed, patients blamed falls on the environment, accidents, a medical condition, or themselves. Three major themes were generated: (1) patients blamed falls on a multitude of things but never acknowledged a possible multifactorial rationale, (2) patients have variable level of concerns regarding their current fall and future fall risk, and (3) patients demonstrated a range of receptiveness to ED interventions aimed at preventing falls but provided little input as to what those interventions should be.


Many older patients who fall do not understand their fall risk. However, based on the responses provided, older adults tend to be more receptive to intervention and more concerned about their future fall risk, making the ED an appropriate setting for intervention.

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