Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Stay Independent Checklist to Engage a Community of American Indians and Raise Awareness About Risk of Falls, 2016.
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The unintentional death rate from falls is higher among American Indians from the US Southwest than from other regions in the country. The Zuni Pueblo is a geographically isolated, rural American Indian community located in western New Mexico. Education and screening for falls risk is lacking in this community and may be needed to reduce falls and falls-related illness and death.Building on a 17-year relationship with the Zuni Health Initiative, meetings were held with Zuni tribal leadership, staff from the Zuni Senior Center and Zuni Home Health Services, members of the Zuni Comprehensive Community Health Center, Indian Health Service, and Zuni community health representatives (CHRs) to discuss elder falls in the community. Existing infrastructure, including CHRs who were already trained and certified in diabetes education and prevention, provided support for the study.Tribal leadership agreed that CHRs would be trained to administer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Stay Independent checklist to assess falls risk. They administered the checklist during one-on-one interviews in Shiwi (Zuni native language), English, or both to a convenience sample of 50 Zuni elders.Mean age of participants was 72 (standard deviation, 7.4) years, and 78% were women. Fifty-two percent reported at least 1 fall during the past year; 66% scored 4 or more on the CDC Stay Independent checklist, indicating elevated risk for falls. CHRs reported that the checklist was easy to administer and culturally accepted by the elder participants.This study broadened the Zuni Health Initiative to include falls risk screening. Self-reported falls were common in this small sample, and the incidence was significantly higher than the national rate. These results highlight the need for community engagement, using culturally acceptable falls screening, to promote falls education and implement falls prevention programs.