April 10, 2023

✪ Adapting Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Programs for Remote Delivery — Implementation Insights through the RE-AIM Evaluation Framework to Promote Health Equity


Marlana J. Kohn, Kelly A. Chadwick, & Lesley E. Steinman

University of Washington affiliated authors are displayed in bold.

✪ Open Access

Published: April 2023

Read the full text in the open access journal Prevention Science


COVID-19 disproportionally impacted the health and well-being of older adults—many of whom live with chronic conditions—due to their higher risk of dying and being hospitalized. It also created several secondary pandemics, including increased falls risk, sedentary behavior, social isolation, and physical inactivity due to limitations in mobility from lock-down policies. With falls as the leading cause of preventable death and hospitalizations, it became vital for in-person evidence-based falls prevention programs (EBFPPs) to pivot to remote delivery. In Spring 2020, many EBFPP administrators began re-designing programs for remote delivery to accommodate physical distancing guidelines necessitated by the pandemic. Transition to remote delivery was essential for older adults and persons with disabilities to access EBFPPs for staying healthy, falls and injury free, out of hospitals, and also keeping them socially engaged. We collaborated with the Administration on Community Living (ACL), the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the National Falls Prevention Resource Center (NFPRC), for an in-depth implementation evaluation of remotely delivered EBFPPs. We examined the process of adapting and implementing four EBFPPs for remote delivery, best practices for implementing the programs remotely within the RE-AIM evaluation framework. This enhances NFPRC’s ongoing work supporting dissemination, implementation, and sustainability of EBFPPs. We purposively sampled organizations for maximum variation in organization and provider type, geographic location, and reach of underserved older populations (Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color (BIPOC), rural, disabilities).

This qualitative evaluation includes provider-level data from semi-structured interviews (N = 22) with program administrators, staff, and leaders. The interview guide included what, why, and how adaptations were made to EBFPP interventions and implementation strategies using Wiltsey-Stirman (2019) adaptations framework (FRAME), reach, and implementation outcomes (acceptability, feasibility, fidelity, and costs; Proctor et al., 2011), focusing on equity to learn for whom these programs were working and opportunities to address inequities. Findings demonstrate remote EBFPPs made planned and fidelity-consistent adaptations to remote delivery in partnership with researchers and community organizations, focusing on participant safety both in program content and delivery. Supports using and accessing technology were needed for delivery sites and leaders to facilitate engagement, and improved over time. While remote EBFPP delivery has increased access to EBFPPs for some populations from the perspective of program administrator, leaders, and staff (e.g., caregivers, rural-dwellers, persons with physical disabilities), the digital divide remains a barrier in access to and comfort using technology. Remote-delivered EBFPPs were acceptable and feasible to delivery organizations and leaders, were able to be delivered with fidelity using adaptations from program developers, but were more resource intensive and costly to implement compared to in-person. This work has important implications beyond the pandemic. Remote delivery has expanded access to groups traditionally underserved by in-person programming, particularly disability communities. This work will help answer important questions about reach, accessibility, feasibility, and cost of program delivery for older adults and people with disabilities at risk for falls, those living with chronic conditions, and communities most vulnerable to disparities in access to health care, health promotion programming, and health outcomes. It will also provide critical information to funders about elements required to adapt EBFPPs proven effective in in-person settings for remote delivery with fidelity to achieve comparable outcomes.

**This abstract is posted with permission under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License**