Effectiveness of telerehabilitation and home-based falls prevention programs for community-dwelling older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol

BMJ Open. 2023 Apr 21;13(4):e069543. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-069543.


Introduction: Falls among older adults are associated with adverse sequelae including fractures, chronic pain and disability, which can lead to loss of independence and increased risks of nursing home admissions. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the uptake of telehealth, but the effectiveness of virtual, home-based fall prevention programmes is not clearly known. We aim to synthesise the trials on telerehabilitation and home-based falls prevention programmes to determine their effectiveness in reducing falls and adverse outcomes, as well as to describe the safety risks associated with telerehabilitation.

Methods and analysis: This protocol was developed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P). Database searches from inception to August 2022 will be conducted without language restrictions of MEDLINE, EMBASE, Ovid HealthSTAR, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, Physiotherapy EvidenceDatabase (PEDro) and the Cochrane Library. Grey literature including major geriatrics conference proceedings will be reviewed. Using Covidence software, two independent reviewers will in duplicate determine the eligibility of randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Eligible RCTs will compare telerehabilitation and home-based fall prevention programmes to usual care among community-dwelling older adults and will report at least one efficacy outcome: falls, fractures, hospitalisations, mortality or quality of life; or at least one safety outcome: pain, myalgias, dyspnoea, syncope or fatigue. Secondary outcomes include functional performance in activities of daily living, balance and endurance. Risk of bias will be assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration tool. DerSimonian-Laird random effects models will be used for the meta-analysis. Heterogeneity will be assessed using the I2 statistic and Cochran's Q statistic. We will assess publication bias using the Egger's test. Prespecified subgroup analyses and univariate meta-regression will be used.

Ethics and dissemination: Ethics approval is not required. The results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

Prospero registration number: CRD42022356759.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Fractures, Bone*
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Telerehabilitation*