Interventions to reduce falls in hospitals: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Age Ageing. 2022 May 1;51(5):afac077. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afac077.


Background: Falls remain a common and debilitating problem in hospitals worldwide. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of falls prevention interventions on falls rates and the risk of falling in hospital.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Participants: Hospitalised adults.

Intervention: Prevention methods included staff and patient education, environmental modifications, assistive devices, policies and systems, rehabilitation, medication management and management of cognitive impairment. We evaluated single and multi-factorial approaches.

Outcome measures: Falls rate ratios (rate ratio: RaR) and falls risk, as defined by the odds of being a faller in the intervention compared to control group (odds ratio: OR).

Results: There were 43 studies that satisfied the systematic review criteria and 23 were included in meta-analyses. There was marked heterogeneity in intervention methods and study designs. The only intervention that yielded a significant result in the meta-analysis was education, with a reduction in falls rates (RaR = 0.70 [0.51-0.96], P = 0.03) and the odds of falling (OR = 0.62 [0.47-0.83], P = 0.001). The patient and staff education studies in the meta-analysis were of high quality on the GRADE tool. Individual trials in the systematic review showed evidence for clinician education, some multi-factorial interventions, select rehabilitation therapies, and systems, with low to moderate risk of bias.

Conclusion: Patient and staff education can reduce hospital falls. Multi-factorial interventions had a tendency towards producing a positive impact. Chair alarms, bed alarms, wearable sensors and use of scored risk assessment tools were not associated with significant fall reductions.

Keywords: education; exercise; falls; hospital; older people; physiotherapy; prevention; systematic review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / prevention & control
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Exercise*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment