The Falls Prevention Study: Implementing an evidence-based exercise program to reduce falls in community-dwelling older adults


Available to British Columbia lower mainland area participants

To view the Falls Prevention Study whiteboard video please click here

Falls Prevention Study Email:

Falls are a major health care problem for older adults and health care systems as they account for 50% of injury-related hospital admissions, 40% of nursing home admissions, and a 10% increase in home care services. This is why preventing falls is important.

There is strong evidence that the Otago Exercise Program, which consists of strength and balance training delivered by a physical therapist, can reduce falls in older adults 65+, but only 25% of people who start would continue with the program over time.

Our team thinks this trend can and should be changed. We wants to help more people continue with the Otago Exercise Program over time to receive maximal benefits. We aim to test if a strategy that includes the use of new technology and specific counselling techniques can help more people to continue with the Otago Exercise Program over time.

We will test two methods to prepare and support physical therapists to deliver the Otago Exercise Program. Method 1 will include the standard Otago Exercise Program training. Method 2 will include the same training and practice to set specific and tangible goals to motivate patients with a Brief Action Planning expert.

We are recruiting 40 physical therapists and 200 older adults who have recently had a fall. The physical therapists will be randomly assigned to receive one of the two training/practice methods. They will then deliver the Otago Exercise Program to 5 eligible older adult patients. A proportion of the sessions will be voice recorded for researchers to analysis how the exercise program is delivered.

For physical therapists who are assigned to Method 2, they will be offered the goal-setting training after they finished delivering the program to their 5 patients.

This Otago Exercise Program includes:

    • 5 home visits from the physical therapists to teach exercise to teach a standardized exercise program in their homes
    • 3 telephone calls to revise patients’ exercise plan

Older adult participants will be asked to:

    • 5 in-person appointments at the Falls Prevention Clinic (at the beginning of the study, and at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months). The appointments will include:
    • Testing your risk of falls and completing a short questionnaire
    • Getting fitted to use of a step counter called Fitbit (for 7 days)
    • Telephone calls quarterly with a project staff member to complete a short questionnaire about your use of health services (at the beginning of the study, and at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months)

You may be eligible if you are:

A physical therapist

    • Are a registered physical therapist in British Columbia
    • Have never received training in Motivational Interviewing or Brief Action Planning
    • Are willing to be audio-recorded during the home visits and follow-up phone calls with the older adult participants
    • Are willing to be randomized to one of the training groups

An Older Adult

    • Are age 65 years or above
    • Had a fall, corroborated by an informant, in the previous 6 months
    • Are able to walk three metres with or without an assistive device
    • Have a Mini-Mental State Examination score > 24/30
    • Understand, speak, and read English
    • Have access to a smart phone and internet
    • Are willing to have their treatment sessions audio-recorded
    • Are able to provide written informed consent


If you would like to take part in this study or seek more information, please contact:
Stephanie Therrien, Research Coordinator at 604 207 4053 or Email:
Toll-free (North America): 1-844-707-4053

Funded by The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research


Principal Investigator: 

Dr. Linda Li, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

Dr. Jennifer Davis, University of British Columbia (Okanagan)

Megan Oakey, Injury Prevention, BC Centre for Disease Control


Cheryl Koehn, Arthritis Consumer Experts

Dr. Jasmin Ma, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

Dr. Chris Shaw, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Hui Xie, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Larry Dian, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

Dr. Lynne Feehan, University of British Columbia (Vancouver)

Dr. Deborah Jehu, Augusta University

Technology Partner:

Tactica Interactive

Leave a Reply