UT researchers aim to get one step further in helping reduce falls and depression among homebound older adults | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Namkee Choi from UT School of Social Work is principal investigator and LBJ health economist Todd Olmstead serves as a co-investigator. 


Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 and older (CDC), and depression among older adults can lead to overall decline.  Compared to their mobile peers, homebound seniors are 2-3 times more likely to experience depression and 1.5 times more likely to experience a fall, contributing to disability acceleration, diminished self-care capacity, frequent costly health services use, loss of independence, and premature institutionalization.

Through a $2.8 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs (Todd Olmstead, co-I) and Steve Hicks School of Social Work (Namkee Choi, PI) hope to get one step closer to preventing falls and depression among homebound older adults by studying an integrated, evidence-based depression treatment and fall prevention program designed to address the depression-fall link, reduce healthcare costs, and improve the quality of life among these vulnerable older adults. The innovative program comprises five tele-health depression treatment sessions and four fall-prevention sessions.

The study will enroll 320 local (Austin area) low-income homebound seniors and examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the integrated “falls and depression” program compared to siloed programs that focus only on depression or falls alone. Olmstead will examine the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.

“I’m looking forward to examining the cost-effectiveness of the integrated program compared to its parts,” Olmstead said. “If the integrated program works as well as we are expecting, this study will provide empirical data needed for real-world adoption on a national scale.”


Olmstead is an associate professor of public affairs at the LBJ School, who teaches courses on empirical methods, management science and health economics, including methods for economic evaluation of local health care programs. He conducts economic evaluations of a wide variety of health care programs including an Austin-area residential mental health care facilitypeer recovery support in substance use treatment and an Austin colorectal cancer screening initiative.