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Keywords:

  • falls prevention;
  • elderly people;
  • randomized controlled trial;
  • multifactorial intervention

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effectiveness of a community-based falls-and-fracture nurse coordinator and multifactorial intervention in reducing falls in older people.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING: Screening for previous falls in family practice followed by community-based intervention.

PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred twelve community-living people aged 75 and older who had fallen in the previous year.

INTERVENTION: Home-based nurse assessment of falls-and-fracture risk factors and home hazards, referral to appropriate community interventions, and strength and balance exercise program. Control group received usual care and social visits.

MEASUREMENTS: Primary outcome was rate of falls over 12 months. Secondary outcomes were muscle strength and balance, falls efficacy, activities of daily living, self-reported physical activity level, and quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Questionnaire).

RESULTS: Of the 3,434 older adults screened for falls, 312 (9%) from 19 family practices were enrolled and randomized. The average age was 81±5, and 69% (215/312) were women. The incidence rate ratio for falls for the intervention group compared with the control group was 0.96 (95% confidence interval=0.70–1.34). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes between the two groups.

CONCLUSION: This nurse-led intervention was not effective in reducing falls in older people who had fallen previously. Implementation and adherence to the fall-prevention measures was dependent on referral to other health professionals working in their usual clinical practice. This may have limited the effectiveness of the interventions.