Morgan Briggs, BA; Jeffrey A. Morzinski, PhD, MSW; Julie Ellis, PhD, RN
Background and Objectives: Prior studies illustrate that community-based programs effectively decrease falls risk in older adults and that faith-based programs improve health behaviors. The literature is unclear whether faith-based initiatives reduce seniors’ fall risks. To tackle this gap, a long-term partnership led by 10 urban churches, a nearby nursing school, and a medical school developed a study with 3 objectives: determine baseline health concerns associated with falls (eg, depression, polypharmacy), implement a nurse-led, faith-based health education initiative for community-dwelling African American seniors at-risk of hospitalization, and assess pre- to post-program fall frequency.
Methods: The 100 Healthy, At-Risk Families study team implemented 8 monthly educational health sessions promoting self-care and social support. Community nurses led the 60- to 90-minute sessions at each of 10 churches. To collect study data, nurses interviewed enrolled seniors pre- and post-intervention. Descriptive and comparison statistics were analyzed in Excel and Statistical Package for Social Sciences.
Results: Senior data at baseline found high rates of polypharmacy and physical imbalance, and no significant depression or gaps in social support. There was not a statistically significant change pre- to post-program in fall frequency “in prior year.”
Conclusions: Study findings reveal insights about African American senior health and fall risks. Church settings may provide a protective, psychosocial buffer for seniors, while polypharmacy and mobility/balance concerns indicate need for continued attention to fall risks. No increase in pre- to post-program falls was encouraging.