Is it feasible to deliver a complex intervention to improve the outcome of falls in people with dementia? A protocol for the DIFRID feasibility study

Louise M. Allan, Alison Wheatley, Elizabeth Flynn, Amy Smith, Chris Fox, Denise Howel, Robert Barber, Tara Marie Homer, Louise Robinson, Steve Wayne Parry, Lynne Corner, Jim Anthony Connolly, Lynn Rochester, Claire Bamford

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Background: People with dementia (PWD) experience ten times as many incident falls as people without dementia. Little is known about how best to deliver services to people with dementia following a fall. We used an integrated, mixed-methods approach to develop a new intervention which combines theory generated via a realist synthesis and data on current provision and pathways, gathered through a prospective observational study as well as qualitative interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic observation. This intervention is to be tested in a feasibility study in the UK National Health Service.

Methods: People living with dementia in one of three geographical areas will be eligible for the study if they experience a fall requiring healthcare attention and have an informal carer. Potential participants will be identified by community services (primary care, paramedics, telecare), secondary care (ED; facilitated discharge services; rehabilitation outreach teams) and research case registers. Participants will receive a complex multidisciplinary intervention focused on their goals and interests for up to 12 weeks. The intervention will be delivered by occupational therapists, physiotherapists and rehabilitation support workers. Feasibility outcomes will include recruitment and retention, suitability and acceptability of outcome measures and acceptability, feasibility and fidelity of intervention components. PWD outcome measures will include number of falls, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), European Quality of Life Instrument (EQ-5D-5L), Quality of Life–Alzheimer’s Disease Scale (QOL-AD), Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES) and Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS). PWD outcome measures completed by an informal carer will include Disability Assessment for Dementia (DAD), EQ-5D-5L Proxy, QoL-AD Proxy and a Health Utilisation Questionnaire (HUQ), The carer outcome measure will be the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI).

An embedded process evaluation will explore barriers and facilitators to recruitment and intervention delivery.

Discussion: The study results will inform whether and how a larger multicentre RCT should be undertaken. A full RCT would have the potential to show how outcomes can be improved for people with dementia who have fallen.

Ethics and dissemination: The National Research Ethics Service Committee Newcastle and North Tyneside 2 approved the feasibility study.

Trial registration:
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Registry
Registration number: ISRCTN41760734
Date of registration: 16/11/2015
Original languageEnglish
Article number170
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2018

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