Hazards in the home are implicated in up to half of all falls among older persons. Yet, the instruments used to identify these hazards usually have been unstandardized, have lacked specific definitions of hazards, and have not been evaluated. Therefore, in 1988, as part of the Study to Assess Falls among the Elderly, in Miami Beach, Florida, the authors evaluated the reliability of a standardized instrument used for assessing the training of evaluators and assessing home environments. Based on up to 176 observations for each potential hazard, the interviewers' assessment of hazards such as throw rugs, tripping hazards, light switch hazards, and hazardous bath surfaces had good overall reliability (kappa = 0.65-0.92). Their assessment of grab-bars and hazardous furniture was unreliable (kappa = 0.18-0.35). Variations in the reliability reflect the difficulty in creating definitions that are simple to be understood and used, yet detailed enough to produce sensitive and specific survey items. Investigators studying falls among older persons should use standardized definitions to train evaluators and assess environmental hazards.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health