Removing home hazards for older adults living in affordable housing: A stepped-wedge cluster-randomized trial

Melissa J. Krauss, Emily Somerville, Rebecca M. Bollinger, Szu Wei Chen, Abigail L. Kehrer-Dunlap, Meghan Haxton, Yan Yan, Susan L. Stark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Falls are the leading cause of injury, disability, premature institutionalization, and injury-related mortality among older adults. Home hazard removal can effectively reduce falls in this population but is not implemented as standard practice. This study translated an evidence-based home hazard removal program (HARP) for delivery in low-income senior apartments to test whether the intervention would work in the “real world.”. Methods: From May 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020, a stepped-wedge cluster-randomized trial was used to implement the evidence-based HARP among residents with high fall risk in 11 low-income senior apartment buildings. Five clusters of buildings were randomly assigned an intervention allocation sequence. Three-level negative-binomial models (repeated measures nested within individuals, individuals nested within buildings) were used to compare fall rates between treatment and control conditions (excluding a crossover period), controlling for demographic characteristics, fall risk, and time period. Results: Among 656 residents, 548 agreed to screening, 435 were eligible (high fall risk), and 291 agreed to participate and received HARP. Participants were, on average, 72 years, 67% female, and 76% Black. Approximately 95.4% of fall prevention strategies and modifications implemented were still used 3 months later. The fall rate (per 1000 participant-days) was 4.87 during the control period and 4.31 during the posttreatment period. After adjusting for covariates and secular trend, there was no significant difference in fall rate (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.97, 95% CI 0.66–1.42). After excluding data collected during a hiatus in the intervention due to COVID-19, the reduction in fall rate was not significant (IRR 0.93, 95% CI 0.62–1.40). Conclusions: Although HARP did not significantly reduce the rate of falls, this pragmatic study showed that the program was feasible to deliver in low-income senior housing and was acceptable among residents. There was effective collaboration between researchers and community agency staff.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-681
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • community
  • falls
  • low-income
  • older adults
  • stepped-wedge trial


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