BACKGROUND: Falls and fall-related injuries in older adults are associated with great burdens, both for the individuals, the health care system and the society. Previous research has shown evidence for the efficiency of exercise as falls prevention. An understudied group are older adults receiving home help services, and the effect of a falls prevention programme on health-related quality of life is unclear. The primary aim of this randomised controlled trial is to examine the effect of a falls prevention programme on quality of life, physical function and falls efficacy in older adults receiving home help services. A secondary aim is to explore the mediating factors between falls prevention and health-related quality of life. METHODS: The study is a single-blinded randomised controlled trial. Participants are older adults, aged 67 or older, receiving home help services, who are able to walk with or without walking aids, who have experienced at least one fall during the last 12 months and who have a Mini Mental State Examination of 23 or above. The intervention group receives a programme, based on the Otago Exercise Programme, lasting 12 weeks including home visits and motivational telephone calls. The control group receives usual care. The primary outcome is health-related quality of life (SF-36). Secondary outcomes are leg strength, balance, walking speed, walking habits, activities of daily living, nutritional status and falls efficacy. All measurements are performed at baseline, following intervention at 3 months and at 6 months' follow-up. Sample size, based on the primary outcome, is set to 150 participants randomised into the two arms, including an estimated 15-20% drop out. Participants are recruited from six municipalities in Norway. DISCUSSION: This trial will generate new knowledge on the effects of an exercise falls prevention programme among older fallers receiving home help services. This knowledge will be useful for clinicians, for health managers in the primary health care service and for policy makers.
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