Falls risk screening and assessment: Barriers and enablers for rural physiotherapists

Robyn Gill1, Meredith Stewart 2, Paul O’Callaghan3, Nicholas Petch4

1 Senior Clinical Educator, Physiotherapy, Country Health SALHN/ Flinders University of SA, PO Box 2100 Adelaide SA 5001 robyn.gill@sa.gov.au
2 Falls Prevention Project Manager, Country Health SALHN, PO Box 270 Angaston SA 5353 meredith.stewart@sa.gov.au
3 Paul O’Callaghan, Master of Physiotherapy student, Flinders University of SA
4 Nicholas Petch, Master of Physiotherapy student, Flinders University of SA


This study explored perceived barriers and enablers of the use of the Falls Risk for Older People in the Community (FROP-Com) screening and assessment tools among physiotherapists in the Country Health South Australia Local Health Network (CHSALHN).


In 2015, a survey was sent to all CHSALHN physiotherapists to determine perceived barriers and enablers of the FROP-Com screening and assessment tools.


Fifty one physiotherapists completed the survey (52%). Overall there was a positive attitude toward the FROP-Com tools. The majority of respondents reported that referral pathways for falls risk screening and assessment had been developed for their region (90%). However, results suggested a breakdown in referral pathways and an increased reliance on physiotherapists to complete the FROP-Com tools. The greatest enabler for screening was staff interest in falls management (70%). Superior falls education (71%) was the greatest enabler for assessment with barriers identified as time (89%) and prioritisation (73%).

Discussion and recommendations

Understanding physiotherapists’ perceptions concerning the FROP-Com tools is an important platform in contributing to an effective falls management system. This research presents a number of recommendations to improve the adherence and process of performing FROP-Com screening and assessments, most pertinent being further education of staff around use of the tools and recording practice. Other recommendations include a review of referral pathways and amendments to the FROP-Com tools. Further research around falls intervention uptake in other health networks and across disciplines may guide increased adherence to falls screening and assessment and improve delivery of rural patient care.


Robyn joined Country Health SA in 2014 as Senior Clinical Educator in Physiotherapy for CHSALHN/ Flinders University.Her role is to support Flinders Uni Physiotherapy CHSALHN clinical placements.Robyn has been an educator of Physiotherapy students for over 25 years at both Flinders University and Uni SA.Robyn holds a Master of Applied Science in Physio (Manipulative Physio) from the Uni of SA.Areas of interest are Rural/ Remote Health; Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy; education in the discipline of Physiotherapy especially Clinical Simulation, blended learning and giving feedback.

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