A Randomized Trial of a Multifactorial Strategy to Prevent Serious Fall Injuries

N Engl J Med. 2020 Jul 9;383(2):129-140. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2002183.


Background: Injuries from falls are major contributors to complications and death in older adults. Despite evidence from efficacy trials that many falls can be prevented, rates of falls resulting in injury have not declined.

Methods: We conducted a pragmatic, cluster-randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a multifactorial intervention that included risk assessment and individualized plans, administered by specially trained nurses, to prevent fall injuries. A total of 86 primary care practices across 10 health care systems were randomly assigned to the intervention or to enhanced usual care (the control) (43 practices each). The participants were community-dwelling adults, 70 years of age or older, who were at increased risk for fall injuries. The primary outcome, assessed in a time-to-event analysis, was the first serious fall injury, adjudicated with the use of participant report, electronic health records, and claims data. We hypothesized that the event rate would be lower by 20% in the intervention group than in the control group.

Results: The demographic and baseline characteristics of the participants were similar in the intervention group (2802 participants) and the control group (2649 participants); the mean age was 80 years, and 62.0% of the participants were women. The rate of a first adjudicated serious fall injury did not differ significantly between the groups, as assessed in a time-to-first-event analysis (events per 100 person-years of follow-up, 4.9 in the intervention group and 5.3 in the control group; hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80 to 1.06; P = 0.25). The rate of a first participant-reported fall injury was 25.6 events per 100 person-years of follow-up in the intervention group and 28.6 events per 100 person-years of follow-up in the control group (hazard ratio, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.83 to 0.99; P = 0.004). The rates of hospitalization or death were similar in the two groups.

Conclusions: A multifactorial intervention, administered by nurses, did not result in a significantly lower rate of a first adjudicated serious fall injury than enhanced usual care. (Funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and others; STRIDE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02475850.).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Pragmatic Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accidental Injuries / epidemiology
  • Accidental Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Patient Care Management / methods*
  • Precision Medicine
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02475850