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CDC: How Primary Care Providers Recommend Tai Chi for Falls Prevention

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March 24, 2018 - Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. The American and British Geriatric Societies recommend a fall risk assessment to identify risk factors and guide interventions to prevent these falls. A new CDC study describes the self-reported discussion of fall prevention approaches used by primary care providers (PCPs), including family practitioners, internists and nurse practitioners, who treat older adults.

Results are described overall and by PCP type. We analyzed a sample of 1210 U.S. PCPs who participated in the 2014 DocStyles survey. PCPs reported on their recommendation of fall prevention approaches including general exercise, Tai Chi, medication adjustments, home safety modifications, vitamin D supplements, assistive devices, alarm systems, and referral to physical therapy, foot specialist, or vision specialist.

Frequencies and adjusted odds ratios for fall prevention approaches were assessed by provider and practice characteristics. Controlling for provider and practice characteristics, there were significant differences for some approaches by provider type. Family practitioners were more likely to suggest home modification, exercise, and Tai Chi than internists.

Overall, less than one in six PCPs recommended Tai Chi - despite this being one of the most cost effective ways to improve balance and reduce falls. While not explored in this study, the lack of referrals to Tai Chi programs may be related to many issues, including lack of knowledge about the benefits of Tai Chi, lack of patient receptiveness to doing Tai Chi, or lack of local availability of Tai Chi classes.




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