Testing the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of four falls risk assessment tools in a clinical setting.

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Journal of nursing management

MeSH Headings

Accidental Falls, Bias, Clinical Competence, Clinical Nursing Research, Cross-Sectional Studies, Education, Nursing, Continuing, Feasibility Studies, Humans, Maine, Models, Nursing, Nurse Administrators, Nursing Assessment, Nursing Evaluation Research, Nursing Staff, Hospital, Pilot Projects, Practice Patterns, Nurses', Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Sensitivity and Specificity


AIM: This paper reports on a study undertaken to test the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of four fall risk assessment tools.

BACKGROUND: Falls risk assessment tools have been developed based on literature and findings from empirical studies, but the instruments often lack further testing in the clinical setting.

METHOD: Four falls risk assessment tools were tested simultaneously in this study. The data was collected in May-June 2006. All assessment tools were completed on a total of 1546 patients. Descriptive statistics were used for data analysis.

RESULTS: The use of the instruments was moderately consistent among registered nurses, but the education provided did not entirely eliminate problems with accuracy. The sensitivity of the instruments was 57.1-100% and specificity was 24.9-69.3%.

CONCLUSION: The sensitivity and specificity of the instruments are important factors to consider when choosing an instrument. However, the strategies to educate staff and to intervene appropriately are equally important for an organization undertaking a proactive stance in mitigating the risk of falls.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING MANAGEMENT: It is important for managers to test instruments in their own organizations and specific populations. It is also critical to carefully assess that the chosen instrument is easy and accurate in use.



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