Objectives: To evaluate the effects of a multicomponent cognitive behavioral intervention on fear of falling and activity avoidance in older adults.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Community-dwelling adults in the Netherlands.
Participants: Five hundred forty adults aged 70 and older who reported fear of falling and fear-induced activity avoidance (280 intervention, 260 control).
Intervention: A multicomponent cognitive behavioral group intervention consisting of eight weekly sessions and a booster session. The sessions were aimed at instilling adaptive and realistic views on falls, reducing fall risk, and increasing activity and safe behavior.
Measurements: Data on fear of falling, activity avoidance, concerns about falling, perceived control over falling, and daily activity were collected at baseline and at 2, 8, and 14 months.
Results: At 2 months, there were significant between-group differences in fear of falling (odds ratio (OR)=0.11; P<.001), activity avoidance (OR=0.26; P<.001), concerns about falling (adjusted mean difference=-1.51; P=.02), and daily activity (adjusted mean difference=0.95; P=.01). At 8 months, there were significant between-group differences in all outcomes and at 14 months in fear of falling (P=.001), perceived control over falling (P=.001), and recurrent fallers (P=.02) but not in activity avoidance (P=.07), concerns about falling (P=.07), daily activity (P=.24), or fallers (P=.08).
Conclusion: This multicomponent cognitive behavioral intervention showed positive and durable effects on fear of falling and associated activity avoidance in community-dwelling older adults. Future research should focus on improving intervention uptake and adherence, reaching frailer populations, and determining potential intervention effects on functional outcomes.