Characteristics and effectiveness of fall prevention programs in nursing homes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Feb;63(2):211-21. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13254. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


Objectives: To determine characteristics and effectiveness of prevention programs on fall-related outcomes in a defined setting.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Setting: A clearly described subgroup of nursing homes defined as residential facilities that provide 24-hour-a-day surveillance, personal care, and limited clinical care for persons who are typically elderly and infirm.

Participants: Nursing home residents (N = 22,915).

Measurements: The primary outcomes were number of falls, fallers, and recurrent fallers.

Results: Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Six fall prevention programs were single (one intervention component provided to the residents), one was multiple (two or more intervention components not customized to individual fall risk), and six were multifactorial (two or more intervention components customized to each resident's fall risk). Meta-analysis found significantly fewer recurrent fallers in the intervention groups (4 studies, relative risk (RR) = 0.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.65-0.97) but no significant effect of the intervention on fallers (6 studies, RR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.84-1.11) or falls (10 studies, RR = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.76-1.13). Multifactorial interventions significantly reduced falls (4 studies, RR = 0.67, 95% CI = 0.55-0.82) and the number of recurrent fallers (4 studies, RR = 0.79, CI = 0.65-0.97), whereas single or multiple interventions did not. Training and education showed a significant harmful effect in the intervention groups on the number of falls (2 studies, RR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.23-1.36).

Conclusion: This meta-analysis failed to reveal a significant effect of fall prevention interventions on falls or fallers but, for the first time, showed that fall prevention interventions significantly reduced the number of recurrent fallers by 21%.

Keywords: accidental falls; meta-analysis; multifactorial interventions; prevention; residential aged care facilities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accident Prevention*
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic