The Potential of Optometrists’ Referrals of Older Patients to Community-Based Exercise Programs: Findings From a Mixed-Methods Study

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Exercise is important for older adults in order to prevent falls and live safer, healthier lives. Visual impairment is a risk factor for falling. Older adults tend to visit optometrists frequently; however, assessing patients’ physical exercise levels is not a routine practice for optometrists. The purpose of this study was to examine the potential for optometrists’ referrals to exercise programs. This study used a mixed-method, cross-sectional design. In focus groups, optometry patients (N = 42) discussed the acceptability of an optometrist’s prescription for exercise programs. The vast majority of optometry patients (90%) indicated that they would follow such a prescription for exercise from their optometrists. Texas optometrists (N = 268) were surveyed about the potential for exercise program prescriptions, and 97% indicated a willingness to prescribe exercise programs to their patients. The results suggest that there is an opportunity for community–clinical partnerships to prevent falls and to improve the health of older patients.

Miyawaki is with the Graduate College of Social Work, University of Houston, Houston, TX. Mauldin is with the School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX. Carman is with University Eye Institute, University of Houston College of Optometry, Houston, TX.

Miyawaki (cemiyawaki@uh.edu) is the corresponding author.
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