Fall prevention in Dutch general practices: A descriptive study

W. M. A. Meekes, C. J. Leemrijse, J. C. Korevaar, L. A. M. van de Goor

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractScientific

Abstract

Background
Falls are an important health threat among frail older people. GPs are often the first to contact for health issues and therefore they can be seen as the designated professional to offer fall prevention. At the moment, it is unknown what GPs in the Netherlands exactly do regarding fall prevention. This study aims to describe what GPs in the Netherlands do during daily practice in regards to fall prevention.

Methods
Thirty-four GP practices located throughout the Netherlands were followed for a period of 12 months. When a GP entered specific ICPC-codes related to frailty and falls in the Hospital Information System, the GP received a pop-up with the question “Is this patient frail?”. If according to the GP the patient was frail, the GP subsequently completed a short questionnaire.

Results
About 65 GPs completed 1396 questionnaires. More than half (n = 726) of the patients had experienced a fall in the previous year and/or had a fear of falling (FOF). Of 276 patients, GPs did not know if they had experienced a fall and of 408 patients if they had a FOF. Of the patients that had experienced a fall in the previous year and/or had a FOF, 37% received fall preventive care. Reasons for not offering such care were i) GP and patient did not think that the patient had a high fall risk (38%), ii) the patient finds treatment too intensive or too much of a hassle (21%) and iii) the patient was not convinced (s)he had a high fall risk and so treatment was not necessary (12%). The three most often treated underlying causes were mobility problems, FOF and cardiovascular risk factors.

Conclusions
The results show that GPs are not always aware of a patient's fall history or FOF and that only part of the patients that had experienced a fall and/or had a FOF receives fall preventive care. Hence, it is important to develop and implement strategies for GP practices to systematically screen for fall risk and to offer fall preventive care to reduce falls among frail older people.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberckaa165.334
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume30
Issue numberSupplement 5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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