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PA 15-4-1813 Evaluation of a culturally appropriate fall prevention program for older aboriginal people
  1. Rebecca Ivers1,
  2. Caroline Lukaszyk1,
  3. Julieann Coombes1,
  4. Lisa Keay1,
  5. Cathie Sherrington2
  1. 1The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia


Fall-related injury amongst older Aboriginal people is a growing health issue yet our recent audit of services identified few Aboriginal-specific fall prevention programs. Informed by stakeholder interviews and Yarning Circles with over 70 older Aboriginal people, a fall prevention program was developed in partnership with Aboriginal community groups. The aim of this study was to evaluate a culturally appropriate fall prevention program for older Aboriginal people. The Ironbark Program is an on-going, weekly, group-based, strength and balance exercise class with an education component held within Yarning Circles. The program was delivered in 6 communities in NSW over a 6 month period from June 2015. A mixed methods approach was used for evaluation; measures of strength and balance were collected to measure changes in physical outcomes, and participants completed questionnaires and interviews to assess program acceptability. Ninety-eight participants (mean age=64, 71% women) registered for the program; 77 (85%) completed baseline and follow-up measurements. Positive ongoing feedback was received, and attendance was good. On average across all sites, there was significant improvement in participant leg strength (time to complete 5 repetition sit-to-stand: 14 s to 11 s, p<0.01), balance (timed single-leg stance: 5.6 s to 7.8 s, p<0.01) and gait speed (timed 4 meter walk: 0.51 m/s to 0.94 m/s, p<0.01), and a significant decrease in BMI (p<0.01). Participants reported both the exercise and yarning components of the program were enjoyable and valuable. The Ironbark program was effective in improving fall-related measures; funding has now been received for a large scale cluster randomized trial to test its effectiveness in preventing falls. Collaboration between Aboriginal community leaders, Aboriginal health and community service providers facilitated development of a unique, culturally appropriate program that addressed a variety of health, social and cultural needs, translating knowledge into action for positive change.

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