'Balancing risk' after fall-induced hip fracture: the older person's need for information

Laura McMillan, Joanne Booth, Kay Currie, Tracey Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Hip fracture is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in older people. Healthcare professionals have a role to identify and respond to challenges and concerns that older people face as they strive to manage risk of future falls and rebuild confidence and independence after discharge.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore the postdischarge concerns of older people after fall-induced hip fracture.

METHOD: Glaser's approach to the grounded theory method guided qualitative interviews conducted with 19 older people in their own homes up to 3 months post discharge, in two health authority areas.

RESULTS: A theory of 'taking control' was generated. 'Balancing risk' emerged as a key strategy that older people employed to help them to take control after discharge home. Older people attempted to control or 'balance' their risk of future falls and dependence by implementing two further strategies: 'protective guarding' and 'following orders'. The instinctive strategy of protective guarding and the learned strategy of following orders were implemented simultaneously and were characterised by older people aiming to pace their progress and balance risk safely and appropriately. To apply these strategies, older people required information from healthcare professionals. In circumstances where older people did not receive or did not understand the information provided, they were left 'grasping to understand' and were more likely to miscalculate risk. This leads to damaged confidence and in some cases further falls.

CONCLUSIONS: The concept of balancing risk aims to help healthcare professionals understand the older person's perspective of hip fracture and to recognise the efforts that people make to guard against further injury and dependence in the early postdischarge period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-57
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Older People Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Accidental Falls
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hip Fractures
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge
  • Psychological Theory
  • Recovery of Function
  • Risk
  • Scotland


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