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Fall prevention findings being presented to Taranaki community

Tuesday 7 April 2015 10:46am

University of Otago researchers are presenting to participants and the community the findings of a large-scale Taranaki study, which showed low-cost home modifications prevent falls, at public meetings being held in Hawera and New Plymouth this week.

More than 800 Taranaki houses were studied to see whether injuries from falls could be prevented by some low-cost home repairs and modifications. The results of The Home Injury Prevention Intervention (HIPI) study, published in the top international medical journal The Lancet last year, showed that falls in the home could be reduced by a quarter.

The public meetings will be held in Hawera on Friday 10 April at 2pm, in the Community Centre Theatre Lounge, on Albion Street (opposite South Taranaki District Council offices), and in New Plymouth on Saturday 11 April at 10am in the Council Chamber, at the New Plymouth District Council, in Liardet St. Researchers, building assessors and builders involved in the study will be present to talk about the results and answer questions.

The community trial conducted by the University’s, Wellington’s He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme showed that low-cost home repair and modifications effectively reduce home hazards.

Lead author Associate Professor Michael Keall says the public meetings were not only a chance for the study authors to present their research findings to the Taranaki community but also an opportunity to say thank you to those who were involved with the research.

About study:
Between 2009 and 2013, He Kainga Oranga employed a local builder to carry out minor housing repairs, typically costing $300 to $600. Work was initially carried out on 436 houses in a randomly selected intervention group. After the trial was over, 406 control houses are receiving similar repairs so all study participants will benefit from the intervention, Keall says.

All participants in the study lived in owner-occupied houses in Taranaki which had been constructed before 1980 and had recently received government-subsidised home insulation retro-fitted by Better Homes. At least one person in each household was a holder of a community services card.

The research team looked at whether the intervention reduced ACC claims for injuries from home falls. Results showed an estimated 26% reduction in the rate of injuries caused by falls at home per year in those houses where modifications had been made.

For injuries judged to be most relevant to the modifications, a 39% annual reduction in injuries was found.

Modifications in the trial included: handrails for outside steps and internal stairs; minor repairs and high-visibility slip-resistant edging for outside steps; repairs to window catches; grab rails for bathrooms and toilets; adequate outside lighting; fixing lifted edges of carpets and mats; non-slip bathmats; and slip-resistant surfacing for outside surfaces such as decks.

The HIPI study was funded by the Health Research Council.

For further information contact:
Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman
He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Programme Research Programme
University of Otago, Wellington
Mob 027 220 1620

Associate Professor Michael Keall
Mob 027 425 4675

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