Falls result in substantial burden for patients and health care systems, and given the aging of the population worldwide, the incidence of falls continues to rise. The aim of this study was to assess the potential effectiveness of interventions for preventing falls.
MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Ageline databases from inception until April 2017 were all searches for RCTs of fall prevention, and reference lists of included studies were scanned. Pairs of reviewers independently screened the studies, abstracted data, and appraised risk of bias. Pairwise meta-analysis and network meta-analysis were conducted.
A total of 283 RCTs (159 910 participants; mean age, 78.1 years; 74% women) were included after screening of 10 650 titles and abstracts and 1210 full-text articles. Network meta-analysis (including 54 RCTs, 41 596 participants, 39 interventions plus usual care) suggested that the following interventions, when compared with usual care, were associated with reductions in injurious falls: exercise (odds ratio [OR], 0.51 [95% CI, 0.33 to 0.79]; absolute risk difference [ARD], -0.67 [95% CI, -1.10 to -0.24]); combined exercise and vision assessment and treatment (OR, 0.17 [95% CI, 0.07 to 0.38]; ARD, -1.79 [95% CI, -2.63 to -0.96]); combined exercise, vision assessment and treatment, and environmental assessment and modification (OR, 0.30 [95% CI, 0.13 to 0.70]; ARD, -1.19 [95% CI, -2.04 to -0.35]); and combined clinic-level quality improvement strategies (eg, case management), multifactorial assessment and treatment (eg, comprehensive geriatric assessment), calcium supplementation, and vitamin D supplementation (OR, 0.12 [95% CI, 0.03 to 0.55]; ARD, -2.08 [95% CI, -3.56 to -0.60]). Pairwise meta-analyses for fall-related hospitalizations (2 RCTs; 516 participants) showed no significant association between combined clinic- and patient-level quality improvement strategies and multifactorial assessment and treatment relative to usual care (OR, 0.78 [95% CI, 0.33 to 1.81]).
Exercise alone and various combinations of interventions were associated with lower risk of injurious falls compared with usual care. Choice of fall-prevention intervention may depend on patient and caregiver values and preferences.