Group Model Building on causes and interventions for falls in Singapore: insights from a systems thinking approach.



Falls in older adults are the result of a complex web of interacting causes, that further results in other physical, emotional, and psychological sequelae. A conceptual framework that represents the reciprocal dynamics of these causal factors can enable clinicians, researchers, and policymakers to clarify goals in falls intervention in older adults.


A Group Model Building (GMB) exercise was conducted with researchers and clinicians from academic units and public healthcare institutes in Singapore. The aim of the exercise was to produce a shared visual representation of the causal structure for falls and engage in discussions on how current and future falls intervention programmes can address falls in the older adults, especially in the Asian context. It was conducted in four steps: 1) Outlining and prioritising desirable patient outcomes, 2) Conceptual model building, 3) Identifying key intervention elements of effective falls intervention programmes, 4) Mapping of interventions to outcomes. This causal loop diagram (CLD) was then used to generate insights into the current understanding of falls causal relationships, current efforts in falls intervention in Singapore, and used to identify gaps in falls research that could be further advanced in future intervention studies.


Four patient outcomes were identified by the group as key in falls intervention: 1) Falls, 2) Injurious falls, 3) Fear of falling, and 4) Restricted mobility and life space. A CLD of the reciprocal relationships between risk factors and these outcomes are represented in four sub-models: 1) Fear of falling, 2) Injuries associated with falls, 3) Caregiver overprotectiveness, 4) Post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological resilience. Through this GMB exercise, the group gained the following insights: (1) Psychological sequelae of falls is an important falls intervention outcome. (2) The effects of family overprotectiveness, psychological resilience, and PTSD in exacerbating the consequences of falls are not well understood. (3) There is a need to develop multi-component falls interventions to address the multitude of falls and falls related sequelae.


This work illustrates the potential of GMB to promote shared understanding of complex healthcare problems and to provide a roadmap for the development of more effective preventive actions.





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Publication Info

Lai, Wei Xuan, Angelique Wei-Ming Chan, David Bruce Matchar, John Pastor Ansah, Christopher Tsung Chien Lien, Noor Hafizah Ismail, Chek Hooi Wong, Tianma Xu, et al. (2023). Group Model Building on causes and interventions for falls in Singapore: insights from a systems thinking approach. BMC geriatrics, 23(1). p. 586. 10.1186/s12877-023-04294-2 Retrieved from

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David Bruce Matchar

Professor of Medicine

My research relates to clinical practice improvement - from the development of clinical policies to their implementation in real world clinical settings. Most recently my major content focus has been cerebrovascular disease. Other major clinical areas in which I work include the range of disabling neurological conditions, cardiovascular disease, and cancer prevention.
Notable features of my work are: (1) reliance on analytic strategies such as meta-analysis, simulation, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis; (2) a balancing of methodological rigor the needs of medical professionals; and (3) dependence on interdisciplinary groups of experts.
This approach is best illustrated by the Stroke Prevention Patient Outcome Research Team (PORT), for which I served as principal investigator. Funded by the AHCPR, the PORT involved 35 investigators at 13 institutions. The Stroke PORT has been highly productive and has led to a stroke prevention project funded as a public/private partnership by the AHCPR and DuPont Pharma, the Managing Anticoagulation Services Trial (MAST). MAST is a practice improvement trial in 6 managed care organizations, focussing on optimizing anticoagulation for individuals with atrial fibrillation.
I serve as consultant in the general area of analytic strategies for clinical policy development, as well as for specific projects related to stroke (e.g., acute stroke treatment, management of atrial fibrillation, and use of carotid endarterectomy.) I have worked with AHCPR (now AHRQ), ACP, AHA, AAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NSA, WHO, and several pharmaceutical companies.
Key Words: clinical policy, disease management, stroke, decision analysis, clinical guidelines

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