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      Community-based health efforts for the prevention of falls in the elderly

      1 , 2 , 3

      Clinical Interventions in Aging

      Dove Medical Press

      fall, fracture, prevention, public health

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          Falls are a major public health problem in the elderly population. The associated health care cost is great. It has therefore become an important public health matter to evaluate those interventions that might be effective in reducing the risk of falls. Risk factors that predict an increased risk of falling are described. We discuss interventions that can be employed in the community to reduce the risk of falls and associated injuries by discipline, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and physician-led interventions. We also discuss the cost-effectiveness of such interventions.

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          Most cited references 78

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          Falls in older people: epidemiology, risk factors and strategies for prevention.

          Falls are a common and often devastating problem among older people, causing a tremendous amount of morbidity, mortality and use of health care services including premature nursing home admissions. Most of these falls are associated with one or more identifiable risk factors (e.g. weakness, unsteady gait, confusion and certain medications), and research has shown that attention to these risk factors can significantly reduce rates of falling. Considerable evidence now documents that the most effective (and cost-effective) fall reduction programmes have involved systematic fall risk assessment and targeted interventions, exercise programmes and environmental-inspection and hazard-reduction programmes. These findings have been substantiated by careful meta-analysis of large numbers of controlled clinical trials and by consensus panels of experts who have developed evidence-based practice guidelines for fall prevention and management. Medical assessment of fall risks and provision of appropriate interventions are challenging because of the complex nature of falls. Optimal approaches involve interdisciplinary collaboration in assessment and interventions, particularly exercise, attention to co-existing medical conditions and environmental inspection and hazard abatement.
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            Development of a common outcome data set for fall injury prevention trials: the Prevention of Falls Network Europe consensus.

            The prevention of injury associated with falls in older people is a public health target in many countries around the world. Although there is good evidence that interventions such as multifactorial fall prevention and individually prescribed exercise are effective in reducing falls, the effect on serious injury rates is unclear. Historically, trials have not been adequately powered to detect injury endpoints, and variations in case definition across trials have hindered meta-analysis. It is possible that fall-prevention strategies have limited effect on falls that result in injuries or are ineffective in populations who are at a higher risk of injury. Further research is required to determine whether fall-prevention interventions can reduce serious injuries. Prevention of Falls Network Europe (ProFaNE) is a collaborative project to reduce the burden of fall injury in older people through excellence in research and promotion of best practice ( The European Commission funds the network, which links clinicians, members of the public, and researchers worldwide. The aims are to identify major gaps in knowledge in fall injury prevention and to facilitate the collaboration necessary for large-scale clinical research activity, including clinical trials, comparative research, and prospective meta-analysis. Work is being undertaken in a 4-year program. As a first step, the development of a common set of outcome definitions and measures for future trials or meta-analysis was considered.
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              Effective exercise for the prevention of falls: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              To determine the effects of exercise on falls prevention in older people and establish whether particular trial characteristics or components of exercise programs are associated with larger reductions in falls. Systematic review with meta-analysis. Randomized controlled trials that compared fall rates in older people who undertook exercise programs with fall rates in those who did not exercise were included. Older people. General community and residential care. Fall rates. The pooled estimate of the effect of exercise was that it reduced the rate of falling by 17% (44 trials with 9,603 participants, rate ratio (RR)=0.83, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.75-0.91, P 50 hours over the trial period) and challenging balance exercises (exercises conducted while standing in which people aimed to stand with their feet closer together or on one leg, minimize use of their hands to assist, and practice controlled movements of the center of mass) and did not include a walking program. Exercise can prevent falls in older people. Greater relative effects are seen in programs that include exercises that challenge balance, use a higher dose of exercise, and do not include a walking program. Service providers can use these findings to design and implement exercise programs for falls prevention.

                Author and article information

                Clin Interv Aging
                Clinical Interventions in Aging
                Dove Medical Press
                20 December 2010
                : 6
                : 19-25
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, Letterkenny General Hospital, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Ireland;
                [2 ]Department of Rheumatology, Our Lady’s Hospital Manorhamilton, Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, Ireland;
                [3 ]Department of Medicine, Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Alan Hanley, Department of Medicine, Letterkenny, General Hospital, Letterkenny, Co, Donegal, Ireland, Tel + 353 74 9125888, Email alanhanley@
                © 2011 Hanley et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Health & Social care

                fracture, fall, public health, prevention


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