Does a fall prevention educational programme improve knowledge and change exercise prescribing behaviour in health and exercise professionals?: A study protocol for a randomised controlled trial
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Introduction: Falling in older age is a serious and costly problem. At least one in three older people fall annually. Although exercise is recognised as an effective fall prevention intervention, low numbers of older people engage in suitable programmes. Health and exercise professionals play a crucial role in addressing fall risk in older adults. This trial aims to evaluate the effect of participation in a fall prevention educational programme, compared with a wait-list control group, on health and exercise professionals' knowledge about fall prevention and the effect on fall prevention exercise prescription behaviour and confidence to prescribe the exercises to older people. Methods and analysis: A randomised controlled trial involving 220 consenting health and exercise professionals will be conducted. Participants will be individually randomised to an intervention group (n=110) to receive an educational workshop plus access to internet-based support resources, or a waitlist control group (n=110). The two primary outcomes, measured 3 months after randomisation, are: (1) knowledge about fall prevention and (2) self-perceived change in fall prevention exercise prescription behaviour. Secondary outcomes include: (1) participants' confidence to prescribe fall prevention exercises; (2) the proportion of people aged 60+ years seen by trial participants in the past month who were prescribed fall prevention exercise; and (3) the proportion of fall prevention exercises prescribed by participants to older people in the past month that comply with evidence-based guidelines. Outcomes will be measured with a self-report questionnaire designed specifically for the trial.Ethics and dissemination: The trial protocol was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee, The University of Sydney, Australia. Trial results will be disseminated via peer reviewed journals, presentations at international conferences and participants' newsletters.
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