Effect of a Matter of Balance programme on avoidance behaviour due to fear of falling in older adults

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Background: Fear of falling (FOF) is associated with restricted activities, increased risk of falling, and decreased quality of life. A Matter of Balance (AMOB) is an evidence-based programme designed to decrease FOF. The current study investigated the influence of the AMOB on activity avoidance caused by FOF in older adults using the Fear of Falling Avoidance Behavior Questionnaire (FFABQ), health-related quality of life, and a question regarding concerns about falling. Methods: Participants of this quasi-experimental, one-group, pretest–post-test study design were older adults from community sites in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area. Participants attended the AMOB programme, which consisted of one weekly 2-h session for 8 weeks. At the beginning and end of the programme, participants completed the standard AMOB assessments, the FFABQ, the Centers for Disease Control Core Healthy Days Measure (CDC HRQOL-4), and a question regarding concerns about falling. Results: Sixty-three participants completed the study; their mean ± SD age was 75.3 ± 7.1 years (range: 60.0–90.0 years), and 84.1% were women. The FFABQ scores decreased from baseline (24.4 ± 12.7 points) to post-AMOB (20.1 ± 11.9 points; t = 2.62, P = 0.01). No changes in any of the CDC HRQOL-4 questions were noted (CDC HRQOL-4 question (Q)1 (z = −1.41, P = 0.16), CDC HRQOL-4 Q2 and Q3 summary index (z = −1.60, P = 0.11), and CDC HRQOL-4 Q4 (z = −0.97, P = 0.33)). Concerns about falling decreased from baseline (3.4 ± 0.9 points) to post-AMOB (2.8 ± 0.8 points; z = −4.09, P < 0.001). Conclusion: Avoidance behaviour caused by FOF, as measured by the FFABQ, and concerns about falling decreased in community-dwelling older adults who participated in the AMOB. Findings support the efficacy of the AMOB for reducing both avoidance behaviour caused by FOF and concerns about falling through an approach that combines education and exercise.

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