Effectiveness of complex falls prevention interventions in residential aged care settings: a systematic review

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Abstract

Objective:

The objective of this review was to synthesize the best available evidence for the effectiveness of complex falls prevention interventions delivered at two or more of the following levels: resident, facility or organization, on fall rates in the residential aged care (RAC) population.

Introduction:

Preventing falls in the high risk RAC population is a common global goal with acknowledged complexity. Previous meta-analyses have not specifically addressed complexity, described as falls prevention intervention delivery at multiple levels of a RAC organization, to determine its effect on fall outcomes.

Inclusion criteria:

The current review considered studies that included participants who were aged 65 years and over residing in long-term care settings providing 24-hour supervision and/or care assistance.

Inclusion criteria:

Studies that evaluated complex falls prevention interventions delivered by single discipline or multidisciplinary teams across at least two or all of the following levels: residents, RAC facility and RAC organization were eligible. Experimental study designs including randomized controlled trials, controlled clinical trials and quasi-experimental trials that reported on measures related to fall incidence were considered, namely, rate of falls (expressed as the number of falls per 1000 occupied bed days), the number of participants who became fallers (expressed as the number of participants who fell once or more) and the rate of injurious falls (expressed as the number of falls with injury per 1000 occupied bed days).

Methods:

A three-step search strategy was undertaken, commencing with an initial scoping search of MEDLINE and CINAHL databases prior to an extensive search of all relevant published literature, clinical trial registries and gray literature. Two independent reviewers assessed selected studies for methodological validity using the standardized critical appraisal instrument from the Joanna Briggs Institute System for the Unified Management, Assessment and Review of Information (JBI SUMARI). Data were extracted from the selected studies using the standardized data extraction tool from JBI SUMARI. Quantitative data were pooled in statistical meta-analysis for rate of falls, the number of participants who became fallers and the rate of injurious falls. Meta-analysis was conducted using a random-effect model with heterogeneity assessed using the standard Chi-squared and I2 index. Where statistical pooling was not possible, study findings were presented in narrative form.

Results:

Twelve studies were included in this review with seven being eligible for meta-analysis. Complex falls prevention interventions delivered at multiple levels in RAC populations did not show a significant effect in reducing fall rates (MD = −1.29; 95% CI [−3.01, 0.43]), or the proportion of residents who fell (OR = 0.76; 95% CI [0.42, 1.38]). However, a sensitivity analysis suggested complex falls prevention interventions delivered with additional resources at multiple levels had a significant positive effect in reducing fall rates (MD = −2.26; 95% CI [−3.72, −0.80]).

Conclusions:

Complex falls prevention interventions delivered at multiple levels in the RAC population may reduce fall rates when additional staffing, expertise or resources are provided. Organizations may need to determine how resources can be allocated to best address falls prevention management. Future research should continue to investigate which combinations of multifactorial interventions are effective.

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