Older Adults’ Experience of an Exergaming Intervention to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls: A Nested Explanatory Qualitative Study

Journal Article


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title

Applied Sciences

Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Falls are frequent and life-changing events for older adults worldwide. The ageing phenomenon has arrived in developing countries, which experience tensions between curative and rehabilitative services, combined with an increase in non-communicable diseases. Policies addressing issues of ageing have been poorly implemented, and there are few fall prevention initiatives. Compelling evidence from the Global North supports exercise-based interventions to improve balance and reduce fall risk in older adults. More recently, attention has focused on interactive videogaming, known as exergames, as a novel way to manage fall risk with exercise. Commercially available exergames have inherent appeal for low- and middle-income country contexts, where rehabilitation professionals and resources are scanty. The aim of this study was to explore the feasibility of a large-scale randomized control trial comparing an exergaming intervention with the gold-standard Otago Exercise Programme and a no-intervention arm. Exercise adherence was poor in both intervention arms, and this prompted a shift to mixed methodology to explore the construct of falls and participants’ experience of the exergaming intervention. Focus groups were conducted, and the results were analysed using content analysis. Whereas the results demonstrated improvements in physical outcome measures (e.g., Timed-Up-and-Go, MiniBESTest) related to balance and falls that were encouraging in both the gold-standard and exergaming intervention groups, few participants achieved optimal adherence. Attitudes toward falls and fall prevention were explored, as well as participants’ experiences of the exergaming programme. Consistent with a developing country context, participants acknowledged both intrinsic and extrinsic fall risk factors. Exergaming participants enjoyed the fun and playful aspects of the exercise programme, yet these were not sufficient to maximize adherence. The focus groups described the barriers and facilitators to participation, which included motivation. The focus groups discussed strategies to enhance participation, and these are discussed in the context of exergaming.