Risk factors for geriatric patient falls in rehabilitation hospital settings: a systematic review

Clin Rehabil. 2011 Sep;25(9):788-99. doi: 10.1177/0269215511400639. Epub 2011 Apr 19.


Objective: To review the literature to identify and synthesize the evidence on risk factors for patient falls in geriatric rehabilitation hospital settings.

Data sources: Eligible studies were systematically searched on 16 databases from inception to December 2010.

Review methods: The search strategies used a combination of terms for rehabilitation hospital patients, falls, risk factors and older adults. Cross-sectional, cohort, case-control studies and randomized clinical trials (RCTs) published in English that investigated risks for falls among patients ≥65 years of age in rehabilitation hospital settings were included. Studies that investigated fall risk assessment tools, but did not investigate risk factors themselves or did not report a measure of risk (e.g. odds ratio, relative risk) were excluded.

Results: A total of 2,824 references were identified; only eight articles concerning six studies met the inclusion criteria. In these, 1,924 geriatric rehabilitation patients were followed. The average age of the patients ranged from 77 to 83 years, the percentage of women ranged from 56% to 81%, and the percentage of fallers ranged from 15% to 54%. Two were case-control studies, two were RCTs and four were prospective cohort studies. Several intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors for falls were identified.

Conclusion: Carpet flooring, vertigo, being an amputee, confusion, cognitive impairment, stroke, sleep disturbance, anticonvulsants, tranquilizers and antihypertensive medications, age between 71 and 80, previous falls, and need for transfer assistance are risk factors for geriatric patient falls in rehabilitation hospital settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rehabilitation Centers / standards*
  • Rehabilitation Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors