The likely acceptance of falls prevention websites by older people

Authors: Nyman, S.R., Hogarth, H.A., Ballinger, C. and Victor, C.R.

Conference: 39th BSG (British Society of Gerontology) Conference: Identities, Care and Everyday Life

Dates: 6-8 July 2010


As falls are a major public health issue for older people, and because of the potential of the Internet for health promotion, we analysed falls prevention websites for their likely acceptance among older people.

We qualitatively analysed the text from 33 websites that provided falls prevention advice for older people and their relatives. Websites were identified from a recent systematic-style review and a repeated search in May 2009. Using principles of discourse analysis, we investigated the subject positions afforded to the reader to consider their likely acceptance by older people, and compared them with the Prevention of Falls Network Europe’s (ProFaNE) recommendations for presenting falls prevention advice in regard to fit with a positive self-identity and empowerment.

None of the websites were consistently in accord with ProFaNE recommendations. We identified three main implicit images of older people that they would need to accept as readers of the advice: 1) Passive recipients: vulnerable, ignorant, and no longer able to care for themselves, 2) Rational learners: respondent to facts, reasoned decision-makers, and compliant with prescriptive advice. 3) Empowered decision makers: able to evaluate advice, decide how best to use it, and be responsible for their actions. Whilst the image of passive recipients was mostly used, the image of empowered decision makers was most likely to motivate older people to prevent falls.

To increase likely acceptance of falls prevention advice, we recommend website editors revise the presentation of their advice to project an image of older people as empowered decision makers.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Samuel Nyman