$1.39 million MRFF grant for research on falls and fragility fractures

Congratulations to Bone and Muscle Health researchers Professor Peter Ebeling and Associate Professor David Scott,  Co-investigators on the TeleFFIT project which received a $1.39 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant, that was recently announced by Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP.

Falls and fragility fractures cause more days of hospitalisation than most other diseases and account for over half of all injury-related healthcare costs.

TeleFFIT is a  personalised, telehealth exercise and lifestyle risk factor management program to reduce falls and  fracture risk in older adults.

Current models of care for fracture prevention focus on pharmaceuticals which reduce fracture risk by 20-50%, missing 50-60% of fracture cases in those with osteopenia (low bone density), and fail to reduce falls, a key contributor to fractures.

Best practice clinical guidelines endorse the use of evidence-based exercise and nutrition interventions with lifestyle risk factor management to reduce falls/fracture risk, but few evidence-based interventions have been translated into practice and long-term adherence to most effective centre/community exercise-nutrition programs is often poor. This suggests that current delivery models do not meet the needs of many individuals. Digital health technologies offer an equitable opportunity to increase the scope, utilisation and effectiveness of best practice models of service delivery and care for falls/fracture prevention by delivering personalised programs and information, and supporting timely patient-practitioner communication.

Findings from this study will fill a critical clinical and practice care gap to guide a personalised, integrated exercise, nutrition and lifestyle risk factor management telehealth model of service delivery that is feasible, cost effective and with immediate real-world applicability and scalability to reduce the risk of falls/fractures in older people.

This 12-month hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial under the MRFF Preventative and Public Health Scheme will evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness, implementation and potential scalability, of a multifaceted, person-centred, telehealth falls/fracture prevention program in people at increased falls/fracture risk. The intervention will assess a smart device exercise app with theory-based behaviour change support, self-directed learning, and nutrition and peer support to improve self management behaviours to reduce falls/fracture risk.

"This is great recognition of the outstanding international team led by our colleague Professor Rob Daly and the important role that evidence-based exercise and nutrition can play in reducing risk of falls and fractures in older adults", said A/Prof David Scott.