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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences 

Pitt Graduate School of Public Health Receives $1.5 Million to Help Prevent Falls in Older Adults

PITTSBURGH, July 28, 2010 – A $1.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) will explore the effectiveness of programs to prevent falls in seniors, which occur in more than one-third of adults 65 and older every year in the United States.

Led by principal investigator Steven M. Albert, Ph.D., professor of behavioral and community health sciences at GSPH, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the two-year grant will compare two interventions:  Healthy Steps for Older Adults, an education-only program, and Healthy Steps in Motion, an education-plus-exercise program. Participants will be randomly assigned to the programs or to a waiting-list group that will start the programs later.

"Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among older adults, and yet we know little about how prevention programs work in the real world,” said Dr. Albert. “This study will give us needed guidance on how we can prevent such falls, which result in billions of dollars in health care costs.”

Based in Pennsylvania, the study will enroll 750 seniors in each arm of the trial as well as 300 Latino seniors, who represent an aging U.S. population. Through the programs, lay service providers will be trained to identify people at risk of falling and make referrals for home safety assessments.

The study was funded through the CDC’s Prevention Research Program under the 2009 Recovery Act for comparative effectiveness research.

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, founded in 1948 and now one of the top-ranked schools of public health in the United States, conducts research on public health and medical care that improves the lives of millions of people around the world. GSPH is a leader in devising new methods to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, HIV/AIDS, cancer and other important public health problems. For more information about GSPH, visit the school’s Web site at http://www.publichealth.pitt.edu.  

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