• accidental falls;
  • aged;
  • hospital emergency service;
  • intervention studies;
  • accident prevention;
  • randomized controlled trial

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effect of a referral-based targeted multifactorial falls prevention intervention on the occurrence of recurrent falls and injuries in older people presenting to an emergency department (ED) after a fall and discharged directly home from the ED.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial. Assessors of outcomes were unaware of group allocation.

SETTING: Seven EDs in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS: Inclusion criteria were community dwelling, aged 60 and older, presenting to an ED after a fall, and discharged directly home. Exclusion criteria were unable to follow simple instructions or walk independently.

INTERVENTION: Targeted referrals to existing community services and health promotion recommendations, based on the falls risk factors found in a baseline assessment.

MEASUREMENTS: Primary outcome measures were falls and resultant injuries occurring over the 12-month follow-up period. Falls and injury data were collected using falls calendars supported by medical record reviews.

RESULTS: Three hundred sixty-one participants were randomized to the standard care group and 351 to the intervention group. No significant difference was found between the two groups over the 12-month follow-up period in number of fallers (relative risk (RR)=1.11, 95% confidence interval (CI)=0.95–1.31] or number of participants sustaining an injury from a fall (RR=1.06, 95% CI=0.86–1.29).

CONCLUSION: This study does not support the use of a referral-based targeted multifactorial intervention program to reduce subsequent falls or fall injuries in older people who present to an ED after a fall.