Healthy ageing among older Aboriginal people: the Ironbark study protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial
Introduction Older Aboriginal people have a strong leadership role in their community including passing on knowledge and teachings around culture and connections to Country. Falls significantly affect older people and are a growing concern for older Aboriginal people and their families. Regular participation in balance and strength exercise has been shown to be efficacious in reducing falls. A pilot study developed in partnership with Aboriginal communities, the Ironbark: Standing Strong and Tall programme, demonstrated high community acceptability and feasibility, and gains in balance and strength in Aboriginal participants. This cluster randomised controlled trial will assess the effectiveness of the programme in reducing the rate of falls in older Aboriginal people. Methods We will examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Ironbark group-based fall prevention programme compared with a group-based social programme, with Aboriginal people aged 45 years and older in three Australian states. The primary outcome is fall rates over 12 months, measured using weekly self-reported data. Secondary outcomes measured at baseline and after 12 months include quality of life, psychological distress, activities of daily living, physical activity, functional mobility and central obesity. Differences between study groups in the primary and secondary outcomes at 12 months will be estimated. Conclusion This is the first trial to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a fall prevention programme for Aboriginal peoples aged ≥45 years. The study has strong cultural and community governance, including Aboriginal investigators and staff, and is guided by a steering committee that includes representatives of Aboriginal community-controlled services. Trial registration number ACTRN12619000349145.