Background: Falls among older adults with intellectual disability (ID) are recognised as a serious health problem potentially resulting in reduced health-related quality of life and premature placement in residential care. However there are limited studies that have investigated this problem and thus falls rates among older adults with ID remain uncertain. Furthermore, people with ID rely heavily on familial and professional care support to address health problems, such as after having a fall. No studies have explored the post-fall care that people with ID receive.

Method: This research will be carried out in two phases using a convergent mixed methods design. The aim of Phase 1 is to estimate the falls rate by prospectively observing a cohort of older adults (≥ 35 years) with ID (n = 90) for six months. Phase 1 will be conducted according to STROBE guidelines. In Phase 2, participants from Phase 1 who have experienced a fall(s) will be asked to participate in a semi-structured interview to explore their post-fall experience.

Discussion: This study will determine the rate of falls among older adults with ID living in community based settings, which will assist to identify the extent of this problem. Data collected from the study will also aid in understanding the circumstance of falls and related falls risk factors in this cohort. This will include exploring any barriers that older adults with ID may encounter when seeking or undertaking recommended post-fall care advice. Findings from this research will potentially inform future development of falls prevention services for older adults with ID. This study has been approved by the University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Trial registration: The protocol for this study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ACTRN12615000926538) on 7 September 2015. www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=368990&isReview=true


intellectual disability, accidental falls, falls rate, barriers, mixed methods

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