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Everyday outdoor mobility in old age: focus group interviews with active senior citizens
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing. (Arcum)
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing. (Arcum)
2015 (English)In: Healthy Aging Research, ISSN 2261-7434, Vol. 4, 32Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Senior citizens are over-represented in injury statistics, and fall-related injuries are globally recognized as a major threat to their health and wellbeing. Outdoor falls are likely to occur among those who are active and healthy when walking or cycling. The objective of this study was to explore active senior citizens’ experiences and perceptions of how their safety could be increased and their risk reduced in outdoor environments.

Methods: Six focus-group interviews with 31 healthy and active senior citizens were conducted in northern Sweden. Data were analyzed via a qualitative content analysis method.

Results: Participants adjusted to age-related changes in order to stay safe during outdoor mobility. Outdoor activities were facilitated by having confidence of safety within the environment, and by using safety devices. Fear of, for example, falling and dangerous environments, such as uneven surfaces, as well as the shortcomings of safety devices, were constraining elements for outdoor activity.

Conclusions: It is of great importance to raise awareness of healthy aging and to illuminate directions for environmental changes. Asking old people about their experiences allows the researcher to identify with their perspective, and may give a more comprehensive understanding of the most appropriate recommendations for health and safety improvements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 4, 32
Keyword [en]
outdoor, fall, healthy aging, old age, mobility, injury prevention
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102912DOI: 10.12715/har.2015.4.32ISI: 000373688900001OAI: diva2:811075
Available from: 2015-05-10 Created: 2015-05-10 Last updated: 2016-09-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. To prevent without over-protecting: children and senior citizens injured during outdoor activities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>To prevent without over-protecting: children and senior citizens injured during outdoor activities
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Injuries are a common public health problem. Non-fatal injuries may result in pain and disabilities. Falls are a common causes of non-fatal injuries and many of these injuries occur during some physical activity. Children and senior citizens are two groups of special interest as their body constitution makes them more vulnerable to injuries than the general population. Outdoor environments influence the risk of injury as people are generally physically active when outdoor. Despite a higher risk for injury, physical activity is a common recommendation for a healthy lifestyle. Children and senior citizens should be able to safely participate in outdoor activities and gain health benefits. There is a need to highlight the complexity of balancing injury risk and the healthy benefits of outdoor activities among these two groups.

Aim: The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate injuries among children and senior citizens sustained during outdoor activities and explore experiences and perceptions on risk and possibilities to increase safety in the outdoor environment.

Methods: The studies were performed in northern Sweden. Theparticipants were children through the age of 12 (Studies I & II) and senior citizens aged 65 and older (Studies III & IV). In Studies I and III, a crosssectional retrospective study design was used. The data were collected from an Injury Data Base (IDB) at a hospital with a catchment area of 60 kilometres in a well-defined population. Data in Study III was complemented with a study-specific questionnaire. Injury data were analysed descriptively. Study II was a field-study that included 14 days of observations, six focus-group interviews with children, and four focus-group interviews with teachers. The three data sources were taken together and analysed using qualitative content analysis. Study IV was a focus-group interview study with 31 senior citizens divided into six focus-groups. Data in Study IV was analysed with qualitative content analysis.

Results: In Study I, 795 children attended the emergency department from 2007 through 2009 and were registered in the IDB with non-minor injuries, such as fractures. The most commonly reported activities contributing to injuries were play, sport, and transport. Other factors contributing to the incident were often related to the ground surface. Contributing products were, for example, trampolines, climbing frames, bicycles, and downhill skis. In the field study (Study II), children at schoolyards were seen climbing high in trees, speeding down slides, or fighting with sticks in the woods. Different perspectives on risk and safety influenced or restricted the children’s outdoor play activities. In Study III, 300 senior citizens were registered in the IDB after injuries from pedestrian falls from January 2009 through April 2011. Women were overrepresented. Sixty percent suffered non-minor injuries. Fracture was the most common injury type. Environmental factors, especially ice, snow, and irregularities on the ground surface were the most commonly described causes to the injury incidents. As the incidents happened in public transport areas, the respondents indicated that they hold the local authorities responsible for poor sidewalk and road maintenance. However, they admitted their own responsibility in preventing similar incidents by changing their behaviour and using safety products. The senior citizens in the focus-group interview study (Study IV) described how they needed to adjust to age-related changes when outdoors, for example, by taking responsibility and using common sense. Facilitating possibilities for outdoor mobility increased with the feelings of safety within the outdoor environment and when using safety devices. To the contrary, fear of falling, shortcomings of safety devices, and dangerous elements such as ice, snow, and interactions with bicyclists constrained outdoor mobility.

Conclusion: Non-minor injuries such as fractures among children and senior citizens that are sustained during outdoor activities must be a focus of injury prevention. Different perspectives on risk and safety influence children’s outdoor play at the schoolyard and senior citizens’ outdoor mobility. There is a need for balance between teachers’ common sense knowledge and the knowledge base of injury prevention. In the same manner, there is a need for balance between healthy activities and an acceptable injury risk for participating in outdoor activities. Nurses are well suited to work with this complexity and to optimize these efforts both at schools and in other public settings.

Abstract [sv]

Bakgrund: Skador är ett vanligt folkhälsoproblem. För de som överlever en skadehändelse kan icke-dödliga skador leda till smärta och funktionshinder. Fall är en vanlig orsak till icke-dödliga skador. Många av dessa skador uppkommer vid någon sorts fysiks aktivitet. Barn och äldre personer drabbas i stor utsträckning av skador på grund av deras fysiska, psykiska och sociala sårbarhet. Omgivningen utomhus påverkar risken att skada sig eftersom människor ofta är mer aktiva där. Fysisk aktivitet är en del i en hälsosam livsstil och en allt vanligare rekommendation som ges inom hälsooch sjukvården för att minska risken för fetma och kroniska sjukdomar. Det finns hälsovinster för barn och äldre personer av att vara aktiva men också en komplexitet i att skadas utomhus. För att barn och äldre personer på ett säkert sätt ska kunna ta del av de hälsosamma fördelar fysisk aktivitet innebär behövs mer forskning. Det övergripande syftet med denna avhandling var att undersöka skador bland barn och äldre som uppkommit under utomhusaktiviteter och utforska erfarenheter och uppfattningar om risker och möjligheten att öka säkerheten utomhus.

Metoder: Studierna genomfördes i norra Sverige. Deltagarna var barn upp till 12 år (Studie I & II) och personer i åldern 65 år och äldre (Studie III & IV). Studierna I och III är retrospektiva tvärsnittsstudier. Uppgifterna har samlats in genom en skadedatabas (IDB) på ett sjukhus med en väldefinierad population och ett upptagningsområde av en radie på 60 kilometer. Data i studie III kompletterades med en studiespecifik enkät utformad utifrån Haddons matrix. Skadedata har främst analyserats deskriptivt. Studie II var en fältstudie bestående av 14 dagars observationer, sex fokus-gruppintervjuer med barn, och fyra fokus-gruppintervjuer med lärare. De tre datakällorna lades ihop i analysen och analyserades med kvalitativ innehållsanalys. Studie IV var en fokus-gruppstudie med intervjuer av 31 äldre personer indelade i sex grupper. Data i studie IV analyserades med kvalitativ innehållsanalys.

Resultat: I studie I registrerades 795 skadehändelser av barn i utomhusmiljö med icke-lindriga skador, såsom frakturer, under 2007-2009.De vanligaste rapporterade aktiviteterna som bidrog till skador var relaterade till lek, sport och transport. Markunderlaget var en bidragande orsak till skadehändelsen, tillsammans med produkter som studsmattor, klätterställningar, cyklar och slalom/snowboard utrusning. I fältstudien (Studie II) har barn på skolgården setts klättra högt i klätterställningar, åka med hög fart nedför backar eller slåss med pinnar i skogen. Olika uppfattningar om risk och säkerhet på skolgården påverkar barnens möjlighet till utomhusaktiviteter under skoltid. I studie III, registrerades 300 skadehändelser av äldre personer efter att de fallit och skadats som fotgängare under januari 2009 till april 2011. Kvinnor var överrepresenterade i skadematerialet. Sextio procent drabbades av ickelindriga skador. Frakturer var den vanligaste skadetypen. Faktorer i omgivningen som is och snö var den vanligast beskrivna orsaken till skadehändelsen, samt att det var dåligt sandat på skadeplats. Då skadehändelserna inträffade i offentliga områden angav de skadade fotgängarna att kommunen var ansvarig för det dåliga underhållet av trottoarer och gator/vägar. Men de erkände också sitt eget ansvar för att förhindra att liknande skadehändelser skulle upprepas, det vill säga genom att ändra sitt beteende och använda säkerhetsprodukter. De pensionärer som deltog i fokus-grupp intervjuerna (Studie IV) beskrev hur de anpassade sig till åldersrelaterade förändringar för att kunna vara aktiva utomhus, bland annat genom att ta ansvar och använda sunt förnuft. Att känna sig trygg i närmiljön och att använda säkerhetsprodukter ökade möjligheten till utomhusaktiviteter. Däremot ansågs fallrädsla, brister i säkerhetsprodukter och farliga omgivningar som snö, is och samspelet med cyklister på gång och cykelbanor förhindra utomhusaktiviteter.

Slutsats: Icke-lindriga skador som frakturer bland barn och äldre personer och som uppkommer under utomhusaktiviteter kan vara, och måste vara, i fokus för skadeförebyggande arbete. Olika perspektiv på risker och säkerhet kan påverka barns utelek på skolgården och äldre personers mobilitet. Det finns ett behov av en balans mellan lärarnas sunda förnuft och den kunskapsbas som finns inom skadeprevention. På samma sätt finns det ett behov av en balans mellan hälsosamma fysiska aktiviteter och en acceptabel skaderisk. Sjuksköterskor är en lämplig grupp professionella som kan arbeta med denna komplexitet och försöka optimera insatser för att barn och äldre personer på ett säkert sätt ska kunna delta i utomhusaktiviteter på skolor och i andra offentliga områden.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2015. 60 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1725
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102906 (URN)978-91-7601-286-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-04, Vårdvetarhusets aula, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2015-05-13 Created: 2015-05-10 Last updated: 2015-05-13Bibliographically approved

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