An intervention to improve outcomes of falls in dementia: the DIFRID mixed-methods feasibility study: A mixed methods study to develop and assess the feasibility of the DIFRID intervention

Louise M. Allan, Alison Wheatley, Amy Smith, Elizabeth Flynn, Tara Homer, Shannon Robalino, Fiona R. Beyer, Chris Fox, Denise Howel, Robert Barber, Jim Anthony Connolly, Louise Robinson, Steve Wayne Parry, Lynn Rochester, Claire Bamford

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Background: Fall-related injuries are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in people with dementia (PWD). There is presently little evidence to guide the management of such injuries, and yet there are potentially substantial benefits to be gained if the outcome of these injuries could be improved. This study aimed to design an appropriate new healthcare intervention for PWD following a fall and to assess the feasibility of its delivery in the UK National Health Service.
Objective(s): To determine whether it is possible to design an intervention to improve outcomes of falls in dementia; to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of the DIFRID intervention; to investigate the feasibility of a future randomised controlled trial (RCT) and data collection tools needed to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the DIFRID intervention.
Design: Mixed-methods feasibility study.
Methods: A systematic review (using Cochrane methodology) and realist review (using RAMESES methodology) explored the existing evidence base and developed programme theories. Searches were carried out in Nov 2015 (updated Jan 2018) for effectiveness studies and August 2016 for economic studies. A prospective observational study identified service use via participant diary completion. Qualitative methods (semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observation) were used to explore: current practice; stakeholder perspectives of the health and social care needs of PWD following a fall; ideas for intervention; and barriers and facilitators to change. Each of these datasets informed intervention development, via Delphi consensus methods. Finally, a single-arm feasibility study with embedded process evaluation was conducted.
Setting: Community.
Participants: PWD presenting with falls needing healthcare attention in each setting at 3 sites and their carers. Professionals delivering the intervention, responsible for training and supervision and members of the intervention team. Professionals responsible for approaching and recruiting participants.
Interventions: A complex multidisciplinary therapy intervention. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and support workers delivered up to 22 sessions of tailored activities in the PWD’s home or local area over a period of 12 weeks.
Main outcome measures: Assessment of feasibility of study procedures; assessment of the acceptability, feasibility and fidelity of intervention components; assessment of suitability and acceptability of outcome measures for PWD and carers (number of falls; quality of life; fear of falling; activities of daily living; goal setting; health utilisation; carer burden).
Results: A multidisciplinary intervention delivered in PWDs’ own homes was designed based on qualitative work, realist review and recommendations of the consensus panel. The intervention was delivered to 11 PWD. The study suggested that the intervention is both feasible and acceptable to stakeholders. A number of modifications was recommended to address some of the issues arising during feasibility testing. Measurement of outcome measures was successful.
Limitations: Recruitment to the feasibility study was lower than expected and therefore the intervention needs to be tested with a larger number of PWD.
Conclusions: The study has highlighted the feasibility of delivering a creative, tailored, individual approach to intervention for PWD following a fall. Although the intervention required greater investment of time than usual practice, many staff valued the opportunity to work more closely with PWD and carers.
Future work: We conclude that further research is now needed to refine this intervention in the context of a pilot randomised controlled trial.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Technology Assessment
Issue number59
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019

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