The statistics are sobering. Each year across the country, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 falls. With each fall comes the risk of life-threatening complications. And every 29 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Although Essentia Health has focused on reducing and preventing falls among older adults in the communities we serve, those efforts are being elevated to a new level. Essentia has been chosen as one of 10 healthcare organizations across the nation to participate in a $30 million research study on fall prevention by the National Institutes of Health.
“This is the nation’s largest and most intensive study of how to best prevent injuries from falling among older adults,” explains Essentia Institute of Rural Health Senior Research Scientist Stephen Waring, DVM, PhD
. He's the study’s principal investigator within Essentia. More than 100 researchers are involved nationwide. The trial will be led by Dr. Shalender Bhasin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Dr. Thomas Gill of the Yale School of Medicine; and Dr. David Reuben of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles.
Among the other health systems involved in the clinical trial are Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Md., New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, the University of Texas Medical Branch and California’s HealthCare Partners. The 10 sites were selected to represent a mix of rural and urban settings with varied ethnic communities and models of care.
The five-year clinical trial will recruit 80 primary-care practices and 6,000 patients ages 75 and older. Within Essentia, Dr. Waring estimates 75 patients will be enrolled at each of eight clinical practices. Four practices will be in the randomly selected control group, where patients will receive care as usual, and four practices will be in the randomly selected treatment group, where patient care will be guided by systematic strategies to reduce falls.
The first year will focus on determining many details of the study, Dr. Waring says. For example, many aspects of the fall prevention intervention will be tested on small numbers of people during this trial phase. If strategies prove successful, the study will proceed, being conducted over four years.
“The goal of this research is to develop a system for clinicians whereby the implementation of evidence-based fall prevention strategies are effective and efficient. It sounds simple, but it’s challenging to put all the pieces together,” says Essentia Elder Care Nurse Practitioner Siobhan McMahon, PhD, GNP-BC
. She is serving as Essentia's co-principal investigator. “There are several risk factors related to falls, such as changes in balance, gait and leg strength, medication side-effects, environmental hazards and changes unique to each individual.”
“The problems we face are complex and therefore require thoughtful and complex solutions,” says NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. “I’m hopeful this initiative will greatly improve the lives of those most at risk for falls.”
Who is involved?
The National Institutes of Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) are teaming up on the falls prevention project. The $30 million award was made by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), which is part of the NIH. Essentia is among the 10 sites chosen by the NIH. Fourteen other sites – NIA-funded Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers – also will participate in the study.
Medical Director of Population Care Management Dr. Mike Van Scoy
will serve as the Essentia group’s clinical adviser and EIRH Research Scientist Cathy McCarty, PhD
, will serve as co-investigator.
To learn more
Want more information on Essentia’s participation in the NIH study? Contact:
EIRH Senior Research Scientist Stephen Waring at Stephen.Waring@EIRH.org
or (218) 786-1280
Elder Care Nurse Practitioner Siobhan McMahon at Siobhan.McMahon@EssentiaHealth.org
or (218) 290-3422...