Representations of old age in falls prevention websites: Implications for likely uptake of advice by older people

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

Journal: British Journal of Occupational Therapy

Volume: 74

Pages: 366-374

ISSN: 0308-0226


Introduction: The representations of old age in falls prevention websites were explored and considered for their potential impact on older people’s uptake of the advice.

Method: Websites were searched for using the strategy of a previous systematic-style review and evaluated using the principles of discourse analysis.

Findings: In the analysis of 33 websites, three main subject positions afforded to older readers were identified: (1) Passive recipients: victims of the ageing process, ignorant, ill-informed and vulnerable; (2) Rational learners: responsive to information, rational problem solvers and compliant with prescriptive advice; and (3) Empowered decision makers: actively engaged with and evaluative of information, autonomous and responsible for their course of action.

Discussion: Falls prevention websites were rarely designed according to evidence-based recommendations concerning fit with positive self-identity and empowerment of active self-management of health. Although the representation of older people as passive and inert was most evident, the image of empowered decision makers was most likely to engage older people in preventing falls.

Conclusion: Occupational therapists should ensure that they represent older people in a positive and respectful manner in falls prevention information, both that available through the internet and in written form.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Samuel Nyman