Why older women do or do not seek help from the GP after a fall: a qualitative study



Publication Details

Dollard, J., Braunack-Mayer, A. J., Horton, K. & Vanlint, S. (2014). Why older women do or do not seek help from the GP after a fall: a qualitative study. Family Practice, 31 (2), 222-228.



It is recommended that older people report their falls to their general practitioner (GP), to identify falls risk factors. However, many older people do not report falling to their GP. Little is known about the reasons why older people do and do not seek help about falling. Objective.

To explore why older women do or do not seek GP help after a fall. Methods.

A qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews with 11 community-dwelling women aged ≥65 years, living in Adelaide, Australia, who had fallen in the last 12 months. Interviews focused on women’s experience of falling and seeking GP help. Interviews were analysed using constant comparison. Results.

Four women sought GP help when they believed their fall-related injury was serious enough. Family and a bystander persuaded three women to attend for a fall-related injury. The four women who did not seek help believed their fall or fall-related injury was not serious enough to seek help and justified this by using internal rationales (they monitored and managed the outcome of falling, they wanted to be associated with a positive image and attitude, and they recognized and interpreted the cause and control of falling) and external rationales (they did not want to waste GPs’ time for trivial reasons and they believed they did not have timely access to their GP). Conclusions.

Given the reasons why some older women do not seek help for falling, GPs should routinely ask older women for their 12-month fall history.

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