Population-based interventions for the prevention of fall-related injuries in older people
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BACKGROUND: Fall-related injuries are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the older population. Summary information about counter-measures that successfully address the risk factors for fall-related injuries in research settings has been widely disseminated. However, less available is evidence-based information about successful roll-out of these counter-measures in public health programmes in the wider community. Population-based interventions in the form of multi-strategy, multi-focused programmes are hypothesised to result in a reduction in population-wide injury rates. This review tests this hypothesis with regards to fall-related injuries among older people. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of population-based interventions, defined as coordinated, community-wide, multi-strategy initiatives, for reducing fall-related injuries among older people. SEARCH STRATEGY: The search strategy was based on electronic searches, handsearches of selected journals and snowballing from reference lists of selected publications. SELECTION CRITERIA: Studies were independently screened for inclusion by two reviewers. Included studies were those that reported changes in medically treated fall-related injuries among older people following the implementation of a controlled population-based intervention. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Data were independently extracted by two reviewers. Meta-analysis was not appropriate, due to the heterogeneity of the included studies. MAIN RESULTS: Out of 23 identified studies, five met the criteria for inclusion. There were no randomised controlled trials. Significant decreases or downward trends in fall-related injuries were reported in all five of the included studies with the relative reduction in fall-related injuries ranging from 6 to 33%. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Despite methodological limitations of the evaluation studies reviewed, the consistency of reported reductions in fall-related injuries across all programmes support the preliminary claim that the population-based approach to the prevention of fall-related injury is effective and can form the basis of public health practice. Randomised, multiple community trials of population-based interventions are indicated to increase the level of evidence in support of the population-based approach. Research is also required to elucidate the barriers and facilitators in population-based interventions that influence the extent to which population programmes are effective.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews