Background on Individual Education
What are individual education strategies?
- Strategies used to prevent injuries from falls among children, the elderly, employees, and those engaging in a variety of sports activities.
- These interventions may focus on increasing physical activity to improve strength, balance, and mobility or may focus on preventing falls by changing environments or practices (e.g., safe use of equipment in work settings, installation of window guards). Additionally, these strategies may include efforts to enhance individual knowledge and skills as well as alter attitudes and beliefs.
How can I use individual education strategies in injury from falls interventions?
- The specific strategies used to provide information differ based on the focus of the intervention. For example, information may be provided through individual counseling sessions or self-help materials such as newsletters, brochures, posters, fact sheets, videos, or websites. Other strategies may provide cues to action rather than specifically increasing knowledge (e.g., reminders to wear proper safety equipment). Alternately, some interventions have provided specific consultations and skill building for increase in exercise or risk-reduction to address falls among the elderly, workers engaged in the construction business, or those engaged in specific athletic behaviors (e.g., skiing).
How do “tailored messages” and “targeted messages” differ? How can I use these messages in injury from falls interventions?
- Individual education interventions may be developed specifically to match the individual. “Tailored messages” take into account specific individual characteristics in creating diabetes messages. Materials or strategies may be developed to meet an individual’s characteristics in terms of readiness to change, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and other lifestyle characteristics. The concept of readiness to change (drawn from the Transtheoretical Model or Stages of Change) suggests that individuals may need different kinds of interventions to help them prevent injury from falls depending on how ready they are to change their behaviors.
- Tailored health education materials are developed based on characteristics that are unique to each individual; therefore, an individual assessment (e.g., survey, interview, environmental assessment of the home) is required in order to collect information specific to the individual.
- Alternately, other informational materials or strategies may be geared toward a specific subgroup of the population of interest (e.g., individuals who have visual or mobility impairments). These are often called “targeted messages” because they consider the specific needs of this subpopulation. In a similar manner, these strategies can be used to influence groups of people (e.g., help them identify conditions when their risk of falling may be greater and develop strategies to minimize these risks), but the messages are not specific to each individual.
What is an example of a tailored message?
- A recommendation to increase physical activity in order to reduce injury from falls may take into account the following information about the individual: Mrs. Smith is 65 years old and takes some medication for her high blood pressure. She is also considered overweight and does not currently engage in physical activity. She knows that physical activity would benefit her, but the last time she tried a group class, she injured herself. She’s also not sure if she can exercise because of her high blood pressure. In this case, a message can be designed for Mrs. Smith as follows:
- “Beginning an exercise routine can be difficult. The first step is to check with your health care provider to make sure that they know you want to start being more active. They can provide guidance on how to begin and tell you if they have any concerns given your current medical conditions. Exercise can be very beneficial, but as with all new things, it is best to start slow and follow your own pace. Below we’ve listed some specific stretches and exercises you can start now as well as advice on some goals you might want to set for yourself. There are also references to exercise instructors who can meet with you to make sure that you are doing the exercises properly. If you have any questions, be sure to ask.”
What is skill building and how can I use it in injury from falls management interventions?
- Another common individual education approach is to build the skills of an individual. Skill building include exercises to increase balance and strength, help with activities of daily living (e.g., walking, stair use), and safety precautions for certain work-related activities (e.g., construction, fire fighting). Skill building strategies can also be tailored to individuals or targeted to the population of interest,
What else do I need to consider for injury from falls management interventions?
- Both tailored and targeted strategies can be delivered at one time or at regular intervals (e.g., weekly, monthly or quarterly). The intervention information can appear in the form of print, telephone, video or computer kiosk messages. These interventions may be geared toward adults or children, and may be focused on individuals who are otherwise healthy or those with pre-existing health conditions (e.g., neurological diseases, vision or mobility impairments). Most individual education interventions provide information to individuals, with some offering individuals opportunities to ask questions or get clarification (e.g., through a face to face session with a health educator).
- Some studies describe advantages of an interactive, web-based tailored intervention over a more traditional print version, including: the ability to receive immediate feedback, an interactive nature similar to interpersonal counseling, and the ability to use graphics and other features to increase interest and attention. Furthermore, once on the web, the tailored intervention can reach a relatively larger group of people making it more cost-effective. In addition, it can be updated continuously to include the most recent knowledge.