OBJECTIVES: To decrease the rate of falls in high-risk community-dwelling older adults.
DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial.
PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred forty-nine adults aged 65 and older with two falls in the previous year or one fall in the previous 2 years with injury or balance problems.
INTERVENTION: Subjects received two in-home visits from a trained nurse or physical therapist who assessed falls risk factors using an algorithm. The intervention consisted of recommendations to the subject and their primary physician, referrals to physical therapy and other providers, 11 monthly telephone calls, and a balance exercise plan. Control subjects received a home safety assessment.
MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was rate of falls per year in the community. Secondary outcomes included all-cause hospitalizations and nursing home admissions per year.
RESULTS: There was no difference in rate of falls between the intervention and control groups (rate ratio (RR)=0.81, P=.27). Nursing home days were fewer in the intervention group (10.3 vs 20.5 days, P=.04). Intervention subjects with a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 27 or less had a lower rate of falls (RR=0.55; P=.05) and, if they lived with someone, had fewer hospitalizations (RR=0.44, P=.05), nursing home admissions (RR=0.15, P=.003), and nursing home days (7.5 vs 58.2, P=.008).
CONCLUSION: This multifactorial intervention did not decrease falls in at-risk community-living adults but did decrease nursing home utilization. There was evidence of efficacy in the subgroup who had an MMSE score of 27 or less and lived with a caregiver, but validation is required.