Implementation strategies to support fall prevention interventions in long-term care facilities for older persons: a systematic review

BMC Geriatr. 2023 Jan 25;23(1):47. doi: 10.1186/s12877-023-03738-z.


Background: Falls are common among older people in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Falls cause considerable morbidity, mortality and reduced quality of life. Of numerous interventional studies of fall prevention interventions in LTCFs, some reduced falls. However, there are challenges to implementing these interventions in real-world (non-trial) clinical practice, and the implementation techniques may be crucial to successful translation. This systematic review thus aimed to synthesise the evidence on implementation strategies, implementation outcomes and clinical outcomes included in fall prevention intervention studies.

Methods: A systematic search of six electronic databases (PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, SCOPUS, Web of Science) and eight grey literature databases was conducted, involving papers published during 2001-2021, in English or Arabic, targeting original empirical studies of fall prevention interventions (experimental and quasi-experimental). Two seminal implementation frameworks guided the categorisation of implementation strategies and outcomes: the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) Taxonomy and the Implementation Outcomes Framework. Four ERIC sub-categories and three additional implementation strategies were created to clarify overlapping definitions and reflect the implementation approach. Two independent researchers completed title/abstract and full-text screening, quality appraisal assessment, data abstraction and coding of the implementation strategies and outcomes. A narrative synthesis was performed to analyse results.

Results: Four thousand three hundred ninety-seven potential papers were identified; 31 papers were included, describing 27 different fall prevention studies. These studies used 39 implementation strategies (3-17 per study). Educational and training strategies were used in almost all (n = 26), followed by evaluative strategies (n = 20) and developing stakeholders' interrelationships (n = 20). Within educational and training strategies, education outreach/meetings (n = 17), distributing educational materials (n = 17) and developing educational materials (n = 13) were the most common, with 36 strategies coded to the ERIC taxonomy. Three strategies were added to allow coding of once-off training, dynamic education and ongoing medical consultation. Among the 15 studies reporting implementation outcomes, fidelity was the most common (n = 8).

Conclusion: This is the first study to comprehensively identify the implementation strategies used in falls prevention interventions in LTCFs. Education is the most common implementation strategy used in this setting. This review highlighted that there was poor reporting of the implementation strategies, limited assessment of implementation outcomes, and there was no discernible pattern of implementation strategies used in effective interventions, which should be improved and clearly defined.

Trial registration: This systematic review was registered on the PROSPERO database; registration number: CRD42021239604.

Keywords: Falls prevention; Feasibility; Implementation; Long-term care; Older person; Residential care.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Health Facilities
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities