Background: falls are the leading causes of accidental death and fragility fractures in older adults. Interventions that assess and reduce falls risk are underutilised.
Objective: to evaluate the impact of a multifaceted community-based programme aimed at optimising evidence-based management of patients at risk for fall-related fractures.
Design: this was a randomised trial performed from 2003 to 2006.
Setting: community-based intervention in Ontario, Canada.
Participants: eligible patients were community-dwelling, aged > or =55 years and identified to be at risk for fall-related fractures. A total of 201 patients were allocated to the intervention group or to usual care.
Intervention: components of the intervention included assessment of falls risk, functional status and home environment, and patient education.
Measurements: primary outcome was the implementation of appropriate falls risk assessment at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included falls and fractures at 6 and 12 months.
Results: the mean age of participants was 72 years, and 41% had fallen with injury in the previous year. Compared to usual care, the intervention increased the number of referrals made to physiotherapy [21% (21/101) vs 6.0% (6/100); relative risk (RR) 3.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.46-8.22] and occupational therapy [15% (15/101) vs 0%; RR 30.7, 95% CI 1.86 to >500]. At 12 months, the number of falls in the intervention group was greater than in the usual care group [23% (23/101) vs 11% (11/100); RR 2.07, 95% CI 1.07-4.02].
Conclusions: compared to usual care, a multi-faceted intervention increased referrals to physiotherapy and occupational therapy but did not reduce risk of falls. Similar falls reduction interventions cannot be recommended based on the results of this study.