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Swiss Med Wkly. 2013 Nov 12;143:w13884. doi: 10.4414/smw.2013.13884.

Evaluation of a novel photography-based home assessment protocol for identification of environmental risk factors for falls in elderly persons.

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Department of Occupational Therapy, Kliniken Valens, SWITZERLAND;



To evaluate the validity and feasibility of a novel photography-based home assessment (PhoHA) protocol, as a possible substitute for on-site home assessment (OsHA).


A total of 20 patients aged ≥65 years who were hospitalised in a rehabilitation centre for musculoskeletal disorders affecting mobility participated in this prospective validation study. For PhoHA, occupational therapists rated photographs and measurements of patients' homes provided by patients' confidants. For OsHA, occupational therapists conducted a conventional home visit.


Information obtained by PhoHA was 79.1% complete (1,120 environmental factors identified by PhoHA vs 1416 by OsHA). Of the 1,120 factors, 749 had dichotomous (potential hazards) and 371 continuous scores (measurements with tape measure). Validity of PhoHA to potential hazards was good (sensitivity 78.9%, specificity 84.9%), except for two subdomains (pathways, slippery surfaces). Pearson's correlation coefficient for the validity of measurements was 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI 0.80-0.92, p <0.001). Agreement between methods was 0.52 (95%CI 0.34-0.67, p <0.001, Cohen's kappa coefficient) for dichotomous and 0.86 (95%CI 0.79-0.91, p <0.001, intraclass correlation coefficient) for continuous scores. Costs of PhoHA were 53.0% lower than those of OsHA (p <0.001).


PhoHA has good concurrent validity for environmental assessment if instructions for confidants are improved. PhoHA is potentially a cost-effective method for environmental assessment.

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