A recent report has alerted Congress to the need for more evidence-based research in preventive care for older adults—including more work focused on physical screenings and falls prevention.
In its third annual Report to Congress on High-Priority Evidence Gaps for Clinical Preventive Services (.pdf), the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) warns of "significant gaps in key areas of knowledge" around preventive services for older adults, it and urges Congress to take a lead in promoting research that would fill in those gaps. The committee identified "high priority" research needs in 5 key areas: screening for dementia; screening for physical and mental well-being; preventing falls and fractures; screening for vision and hearing problems; and avoiding unintended harms of medical procedures.
In its discussion of falls and fractures among older adults, USPSTF writes that "more research is needed to develop and validate practical tools that can be used … to better identify older adults who are at substantial risk for falls" and that "clinical trials are also needed on the effectiveness of interventions … for the prevention of falls." APTA offers its members evidence-based resources on falls through its PT Now webpage as well as through Open Door, its portal to current research works. In addition, APTA provides physical therapists (PTs) and patients with education on exercise prescriptions for balance and falls prevention, a pocket guide on falls risk reduction (.pdf) and an online community where members can share information about falls prevention.
USPSTF is a volunteer group of experts created in 1984. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act charged the task force with making annual reports to Congress on needs in evidence-based research around preventive care. The 2013 report marks the group's third—previous reports focused on the need for research on kidney, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer screenings (2012), and gaps in research on screenings for heart disease, colorectal cancer, hepatitis C, and hip dysplasia in newborns (2011).
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