Training family to assist with physiotherapy for older people transitioning from hospital to the community: a pilot randomized controlled trial Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective: To investigate the safety and effectiveness of augmenting physiotherapy with family-assisted therapy, to inform a future, fully powered trial. Design: Parallel pilot randomized controlled trial. Setting: Transition Care Program. Participants: Thirty-five older adults with multimorbidity, recently hospitalized, with a mean age of 84.1 years (SD = 6.1 years) and mean Modified Barthel Index of 67.8 units (SD = 19.2 units), and 40 family members. Interventions: The control group ( n = 18) received usual physiotherapy care. The experimental group ( n = 17) received usual physiotherapy care and family-assisted therapy from a family member trained by a physiotherapist. Main measures: Primary outcomes were falls-related self-efficacy measured by the Short Falls Efficacy Scale – International and falls during the intervention period. Secondary outcomes included daily steps, EQ-5D-3L (three-level version of the EuroQoL five-dimensional health-related quality of life questionnaire) and ICECAP-O (ICEpop CAPability measure for Older people), Modified Barthel Index and Modified Caregiver Strain Index. Results: There were no between-group differences for falls-related self-efficacy. Relative to the control group, the experimental group was observed to have a reduced risk of falling (relative risk = 0.38, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.09–1.60) and a reduced falls rate (incidence rate ratio = 0.22, 95% CI = 0.04–1.20) was of borderline statistical significance. The experimental group walked a mean of 944 daily steps more than the control group (95% CI = 139–1748) and had a significant reduction in activity limitation. There were no between-group differences for quality of life or caregiver strain. Conclusion: Augmenting physiotherapy with family-assisted therapy is feasible for older people transitioning from hospital to the community. A fully powered randomized controlled trial is indicated.

publication date

  • 2019