Effectiveness of Hip Protectors to Reduce Risk for Hip Fracture from Falls in Long-Term Care

J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2019 Nov;20(11):1397-1403.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2019.07.010. Epub 2019 Aug 30.


Objective: To generate evidence of the effectiveness of hip protectors to minimize risk of hip fracture at the time of falling among residents of long-term care (LTC) by contrasting rates of hip fractures between falls with and without hip protectors.

Design: A 12-month, retrospective cohort study. We retrospectively reviewed fall incident reports recorded during the 12 months prior to baseline in participating homes.

Setting and participants: A population-based sample comprising all residents from 14 LTC homes owned and operated by a single regional health authority, who experienced at least 1 recorded fall during the 12-month study.

Results: At baseline, the pooled mean (standard deviation) age of residents in participating homes was 82.7 (11.3) years and 68% were female. Hip protectors were worn in 2108 of 3520 (60%) recorded falls. Propensity to wear hip protectors was associated with male sex, cognitive impairment, wandering behavior, cardiac dysrhythmia, use of a cane or walker, use of anti-anxiety medication, and presence of urinary and bowel incontinence. The incidence of hip fracture was 0.33 per 100 falls in falls with hip protectors compared with 0.92 per 100 falls in falls without hip protectors, representing an unadjusted relative risk (RR) of hip fracture of 0.36 (95% confidence interval 0.14-0.90, P = .029) between protected and unprotected falls. After adjusting for propensity to wear hip protectors, the RR of hip fracture was 0.38 (95% confidence interval 0.14-0.99, P = .048) during protected vs unprotected falls.

Conclusions and implications: Hip protectors were worn in 60% of falls, and the risk of hip fracture was reduced by nearly 3-fold by wearing a hip protector at the time of falling. Given that most clinical trials have failed to attain a similar level of adherence, our findings support the need for future research on the benefits of dissemination and implementation strategies to maximize adherence with hip protectors in LTC.

Keywords: Accidental falls; hip fractures; hip protectors; long-term care; nursing homes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hip Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Protective Devices / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies