Pilot cluster randomised controlled trial of flooring to reduce injuries from falls in elderly care units: study protocol

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Falls are an issue disproportionately affecting older people who are at increased risk of falls and injury. This protocol describes a pilot study investigating shock-absorbing flooring for fall-related injuries in wards for older people.ObjectivesTo inform future research by evaluating fall-related injuries on the intervention and existing flooring, assessing the sustainability of the flooring in ward environments, estimating the cost-effectiveness of the floor and assessing how the floor affects patients and other users.DesignThis study uses mixed methods: a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial, observation via mechanical testing and interviews. Eight participating wards (clusters) are randomised using a computer-generated list. No blinding is incorporated into the study. Each site has a baseline period of approximately 6 months. Then, four sites receive the intervention floor, while four continue using standard floors. Sites are then followed up for approximately 1 year.ParticipantsAny person admitted to a bed in the ‘study area’ of a participating ward can be entered into the trial. Orientated patients, visitors and any hospital staff who use the floor in a study area are eligible for inclusion in an interview.InterventionAn 8.3 mm thick vinyl floor covering with polyvinyl chloride foam backing (Tarkett Omnisports EXCEL).OutcomesThe primary outcome is fall-related injuries. Severity of injuries, falls, cost-effectiveness, user views and mechanical performance (shock absorbency and slip resistance) are also being assessed.Trial registrationClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00817869; UKCRN ID: 5735.

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