Publicatie datum

Falls prevention at GP practices: a description of daily practice.

Meekes, W.M.A., Leemrijse, C.J., Weesie, Y.M., Goor, L.A.M. van de, Donker, G.A., Korevaar, J.C. Falls prevention at GP practices: a description of daily practice. BMC Family Practice: 2021, 22(1), p. Art. nr. 190.
Lees online
General practitioners (GPs) can be considered the designated professionals to identify high fall risk and to guide older people to fall preventive care. Currently it is not exactly known how GPs treat this risk. This study aims to investigate GPs’ daily practice regarding fall preventive care for frail older patients.

Sixty-five GPs from 32 Dutch practices participated in this study for a period of 12 months. When a GP entered specific International Classification of Primary Care-codes related to frailty and/or high fall risk in their Electronic Health Records, a pop-up appeared asking “Is this patient frail?”. If the GP confirmed this, the GP completed a short questionnaire about patient’s fall history and fear of falling (FOF), and the fall preventive care provided.

The GPs completed questionnaires regarding 1394 frail older patients aged ≥75. Of 20% of these patients, the GPs did not know whether they had experienced a fall or not. The GPs did not know whether a FOF existed in even more patients (29%). Of the patients with a fall history and/or a FOF (N = 726), 37% (N = 271) received fall preventive care. Two main reasons for not offering fall preventive care to these patients were: I) the patient finds treatment too intensive or too much of a hassle (37%), and II) the GP identified a high fall risk but the patient did not acknowledge this (14%). When patients were treated for high fall risk, the GP and the physiotherapist were the most frequently involved health care providers. The involved health care providers most often treated mobility limitations, cardiovascular risk factors, and FOF.

The results from this study show that GPs were frequently not aware of their frail patient’s fall history and/or FOF and that the majority of the frail older patients with a fall history and/or FOF did not receive fall preventive care. Developing systematic screening strategies for the primary care setting enhancing the identification of high fall risk and the provision of fall preventive care may improve patients’ quality of life and reduce health care costs.