Will elderly rest home residents wear hip protectors?
Villar MT., Hill P., Inskip H., Thompson P., Cooper C.
BACKGROUND: Hip fracture is a common cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly people, for whom osteoporosis, the risk of falling and direct trauma to the hip during the fall are the major risk factors. External hip protectors have been developed which reduce the risk of hip fracture after a fall. However, compliance with their use is uncertain. We addressed this issue in a sample of elderly Dorset rest home residents over a 3-month period. METHODS: 31 rest homes agreed to participate. Of the 288 female subjects approached, 141 gave their informed consent and 101 were allocated to the intervention arm of the study. Their ages ranged from 64 to 98 years, and 44% reported a fall during the preceding 12 months. Each subject was fitted with three pairs of protector pads (Sahvatex, Denmark) sewn into specially designed undergarments. Randomly timed fortnightly visits were made to each subject to assess compliance for 12 weeks. FINDINGS: 27 subjects were compliant for the whole study period; 54 wore the protector pads for less than a week, largely for reasons of poor fitting or discomfort; the remainder withdrew at varying intervals between 1 and 12 weeks. During the study period, there were nine recorded falls onto the hip, six of which occurred in women wearing protectors. None resulted in hip fracture. CONCLUSION: Approximately 50% of elderly rest home residents who are mentally able would wear hip protectors in order to prevent hip fractures. Long-term compliance drops to about 30%. Compliance could be increased substantially if the pads and undergarments were modified to enhance their fit and to reduce the discomfort associated with their use.