Call for further studies on implementing falls prevention programs in the community

12 May 2010

Associate Prof. Lindy Clemson
Associate Prof. Lindy Clemson

In an editorial published on (website of the British Medical Journal) today, Lindy Clemson, Associate Professor in Ageing at the University of Sydney comments on a new study by a team of researchers from Nottingham which has seen a community based falls prevention service reduce the rate of falls among older people by 55%.

The study involved 204 adults aged more than 60 living at home or in residential care who had fallen and called an emergency ambulance but were not taken to hospital.

Participants were given a thorough assessment at the start of the study and then randomly split into two groups. The intervention group received support from community fall teams including strength and balance training, a home hazards assessment and adaptations for the home, and practice in getting up from the floor. They also attended regular group sessions on fall prevention for further strength training and advice.

The control group received no such support and were advised to use existing social and medical services as usual.

All participants completed monthly falls diaries to monitor the rate of falls over 12 months.

The results show a 55% reduction in the rate of falls over the study period (3.5 falls per year in the intervention group compared with 7.7 falls per year in the control group). Results were similar when adjusted for factors such as sex, age, medication use, previous falls and residential status.

The intervention group were also better able to carry out usual daily activities and were less fearful of falling than the control group.

The number of participants admitted to hospital with a fracture, and the number of times an emergency ambulance was called because of a fall were also lower in the intervention group.

'Although there is strong evidence for inventions to reduce the risk of falling in older age such as the study by Logan and colleagues, the uptake in practice has been slow and inconsistent,' comments Associate Professor Clemson.

'We need better evidence on how to package and deliver different components of the interventions, as while trials in controlled situations provide sound rational for practice, several factors influence real life uptake and sustainability.'

View the full content online:

Research: Community falls prevention for people who call an emergency ambulance after a fall: Randomised controlled trial

Editorial: Prevention of falls in the community