Delivery of fall prevention interventions for at-risk older adults in rural areas: Findings from a national dissemination

Matthew Lee Smith, Samuel D. Towne, Angelica Herrera-Venson, Kathleen Cameron, Scott A. Horel, Marcia G. Ory, Chelsea L. Gilchrist, Ellen C. Schneider, Casey Dicocco, Shannon Skowronski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Falls incidence rates and associated injuries are projected to increase among rural-dwelling older adults, which highlights the need for effective interventions to prevent falls and manage fall-related risks. The purpose of this descriptive study was to identify the geospatial dissemination of eight evidence-based fall prevention programs (e.g., A Matter of Balance, Stepping On, Tai Chi, Otago Exercise Program) across the United States (U.S.) in terms of participants enrolled, workshops delivered, and geospatial reach. These dissemination characteristics were compared across three rurality designations (i.e., metro areas; non-metro areas adjacent to metro areas; and, non-metro areas not adjacent to metro areas). Data were analyzed from a national repository of 39 Administration for Community Living (ACL) grantees from 2014–2017 (spanning 22 states). Descriptive statistics were used to assess program reach, delivery-site type, and completion rate by rurality. Geographic information systems (GIS) geospatially represented the collective reach of the eight interventions. Of the 45,812 participants who attended a fall prevention program, 12.7% attended workshops in non-metro adjacent areas and 6.6% attended workshops in non-metro non-adjacent areas. Of the 3755 workshops delivered (in over 550 unique counties), most were delivered in senior centers (26%), residential facilities (20%), healthcare organizations (13%), and faith-based organizations (9%). On average, the workshop attendance/retention rates were consistent across rurality (~70%). Findings highlight the need to diversify the delivery infrastructure for fall prevention programs to adequately serve older adults in rural areas. Ongoing efforts are needed to offer sustainable technical assistance and to develop scalable clinical-community referral systems to increase fall prevention program participation among rural-dwelling older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2798
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Dissemination
  • Evidence-based program
  • Fall prevention
  • Geospatial research
  • Rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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