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1.  Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in reducing the probability of an elderly person’s falling and/or sustaining a fall-related injury.
Background
Although estimates of fall rates vary widely based on the location, age, and living arrangements of the elderly population, it is estimated that each year approximately 30% of community-dwelling individuals aged 65 and older, and 50% of those aged 85 and older will fall. Of those individuals who fall, 12% to 42% will have a fall-related injury.
Several meta-analyses and cohort studies have identified falls and fall-related injuries as a strong predictor of admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. It has been shown that the risk of LTC home admission is over 5 times higher in seniors who experienced 2 or more falls without injury, and over 10 times higher in seniors who experienced a fall causing serious injury.
Falls result from the interaction of a variety of risk factors that can be both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic factors are those that pertain to the physical, demographic, and health status of the individual, while extrinsic factors relate to the physical and socio-economic environment. Intrinsic risk factors can be further grouped into psychosocial/demographic risks, medical risks, risks associated with activity level and dependence, and medication risks. Commonly described extrinsic risks are tripping hazards, balance and slip hazards, and vision hazards.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Question
Since many risk factors for falls are modifiable, what interventions (devices, systems, programs) exist that reduce the risk of falls and/or fall-related injuries for community-dwelling seniors?
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
Inclusion Criteria
English language;
published between January 2000 and September 2007;
population of community-dwelling seniors (majority aged 65+); and
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental trials, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses.
Exclusion Criteria
special populations (e.g., stroke or osteoporosis; however, studies restricted only to women were included);
studies only reporting surrogate outcomes; or
studies whose outcome cannot be extracted for meta-analysis.
Outcomes of Interest
number of fallers, and
number of falls resulting in injury/fracture.
Search Strategy
A search was performed in OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 2000 and September 2007. Furthermore, all studies included in a 2003 Cochrane review were considered for inclusion in this analysis. Abstracts were reviewed by a single author, and studies meeting the inclusion criteria outlined above were obtained. Studies were grouped based on intervention type, and data on population characteristics, fall outcomes, and study design were extracted. Reference lists were also checked for relevant studies. The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology.
Summary of Findings
The following 11 interventions were identified in the literature search: exercise programs, vision assessment and referral, cataract surgery, environmental modifications, vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D plus calcium supplementation, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), medication withdrawal, gait-stabilizing devices, hip protectors, and multifactorial interventions.
Exercise programs were stratified into targeted programs where the exercise routine was tailored to the individuals’ needs, and untargeted programs that were identical among subjects. Furthermore, analyses were stratified by exercise program duration (<6 months and ≥6 months) and fall risk of study participants. Similarly, the analyses on the environmental modification studies were stratified by risk. Low-risk study participants had had no fall in the year prior to study entry, while high-risk participants had had at least one fall in the previous year.
A total of 17 studies investigating multifactorial interventions were identified in the literature search. Of these studies, 10 reported results for a high-risk population with previous falls, while 6 reported results for study participants representative of the general population. One study provided stratified results by fall risk, and therefore results from this study were included in each stratified analysis.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Falls in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Hazard ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
Summary of Meta-Analyses of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Interventions on the Risk of Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors*
CI refers to confidence interval; RR, relative risk.
Odds ratio is reported, because RR was not available.
Conclusions
High-quality evidence indicates that long-term exercise programs in mobile seniors and environmental modifications in the homes of frail elderly persons will effectively reduce falls and possibly fall-related injuries in Ontario’s elderly population.
A combination of vitamin D and calcium supplementation in elderly women will help reduce the risk of falls by more than 40%.
The use of outdoor gait-stabilizing devices for mobile seniors during the winter in Ontario may reduce falls and fall-related injuries; however, evidence is limited and more research is required in this area.
While psychotropic medication withdrawal may be an effective method for reducing falls, evidence is limited and long-term compliance has been demonstrated to be difficult to achieve.
Multifactorial interventions in high-risk populations may be effective; however, the effect is only marginally significant, and the quality of evidence is low.
PMCID: PMC3377567  PMID: 23074507
2.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Introduction
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Questions
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
cost-effectiveness.
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Objective
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Exercise
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Exercise
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Questions
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
3.  Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective
To assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling seniors.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Urinary incontinence defined as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine” was identified as 1 of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. Urinary incontinence is a health problem that affects a substantial proportion of Ontario’s community-dwelling seniors (and indirectly affects caregivers), impacting their health, functioning, well-being and quality of life. Based on Canadian studies, prevalence estimates range from 9% to 30% for senior men and nearly double from 19% to 55% for senior women. The direct and indirect costs associated with UI are substantial. It is estimated that the total annual costs in Canada are $1.5 billion (Cdn), and that each year a senior living at home will spend $1,000 to $1,500 on incontinence supplies.
Interventions to treat and manage UI can be classified into broad categories which include lifestyle modification, behavioural techniques, medications, devices (e.g., continence pessaries), surgical interventions and adjunctive measures (e.g., absorbent products).
The focus of this review is behavioural interventions, since they are commonly the first line of treatment considered in seniors given that they are the least invasive options with no reported side effects, do not limit future treatment options, and can be applied in combination with other therapies. In addition, many seniors would not be ideal candidates for other types of interventions involving more risk, such as surgical measures.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Description of Technology/Therapy
Behavioural interventions can be divided into 2 categories according to the target population: caregiver-dependent techniques and patient-directed techniques. Caregiver-dependent techniques (also known as toileting assistance) are targeted at medically complex, frail individuals living at home with the assistance of a caregiver, who tends to be a family member. These seniors may also have cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits. A health care professional trains the senior’s caregiver to deliver an intervention such as prompted voiding, habit retraining, or timed voiding. The health care professional who trains the caregiver is commonly a nurse or a nurse with advanced training in the management of UI, such as a nurse continence advisor (NCA) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The second category of behavioural interventions consists of patient-directed techniques targeted towards mobile, motivated seniors. Seniors in this population are cognitively able, free from any major physical deficits, and motivated to regain and/or improve their continence. A nurse or a nurse with advanced training in UI management, such as an NCA or CNS, delivers the patient-directed techniques. These are often provided as multicomponent interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), education on bladder control strategies, and self-monitoring. Pelvic floor muscle training, defined as a program of repeated pelvic floor muscle contractions taught and supervised by a health care professional, may be employed as part of a multicomponent intervention or in isolation.
Education is a large component of both caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions, and patient and/or caregiver involvement as well as continued practice strongly affect the success of treatment. Incontinence products, which include a large variety of pads and devices for effective containment of urine, may be used in conjunction with behavioural techniques at any point in the patient’s management.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions for the treatment of UI in community-dwelling seniors (see Appendix 1).
Research Questions
Are caregiver-dependent behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in medically complex, frail community-dwelling seniors with/without cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits?
Are patient-directed behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in mobile, motivated community-dwelling seniors?
Are behavioural interventions delivered by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting effective in improving incontinence outcomes in community-dwelling seniors?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of the analysis.
The available evidence was limited by considerable variation in study populations and in the type and severity of UI for studies examining both caregiver-directed and patient-directed interventions. The UI literature frequently is limited to reporting subjective outcome measures such as patient observations and symptoms. The primary outcome of interest, admission to a LTC home, was not reported in the UI literature. The number of eligible studies was low, and there were limited data on long-term follow-up.
Summary of Evidence on Behavioural Interventions for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors
Prompted voiding
Habit retraining
Timed voiding
Bladder training
PFMT (with or without biofeedback)
Bladder control strategies
Education
Self-monitoring
CI refers to confidence interval; CNS, clinical nurse specialist; NCA, nurse continence advisor; PFMT, pelvic floor muscle training; RCT, randomized controlled trial; WMD, weighted mean difference; UI, urinary incontinence.
Economic Analysis
A budget impact analysis was conducted to forecast costs for caregiver-dependent and patient-directed multicomponent behavioural techniques delivered by NCAs, and PFMT alone delivered by physiotherapists. All costs are reported in 2008 Canadian dollars. Based on epidemiological data, published medical literature and clinical expert opinion, the annual cost of caregiver-dependent behavioural techniques was estimated to be $9.2 M, while the annual costs of patient-directed behavioural techniques delivered by either an NCA or physiotherapist were estimated to be $25.5 M and $36.1 M, respectively. Estimates will vary if the underlying assumptions are changed.
Currently, the province of Ontario absorbs the cost of NCAs (available through the 42 Community Care Access Centres across the province) in the home setting. The 2007 Incontinence Care in the Community Report estimated that the total cost being absorbed by the public system of providing continence care in the home is $19.5 M in Ontario. This cost estimate included resources such as personnel, communication with physicians, record keeping and product costs. Clinic costs were not included in this estimation because currently these come out of the global budget of the respective hospital and very few continence clinics actually exist in the province. The budget impact analysis factored in a cost for the clinic setting, assuming that the public system would absorb the cost with this new model of community care.
Considerations for Ontario Health System
An expert panel on aging in the community met on 3 occasions from January to May 2008, and in part, discussed treatment of UI in seniors in Ontario with a focus on caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions. In particular, the panel discussed how treatment for UI is made available to seniors in Ontario and who provides the service. Some of the major themes arising from the discussions included:
Services/interventions that currently exist in Ontario offering behavioural interventions to treat UI are not consistent. There is a lack of consistency in how seniors access services for treatment of UI, who manages patients and what treatment patients receive.
Help-seeking behaviours are important to consider when designing optimal service delivery methods.
There is considerable social stigma associated with UI and therefore there is a need for public education and an awareness campaign.
The cost of incontinent supplies and the availability of NCAs were highlighted.
Conclusions
There is moderate-quality evidence that the following interventions are effective in improving UI in mobile motivated seniors:
Multicomponent behavioural interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, PFMT (with or without biofeedback), education on bladder control strategies and self-monitoring techniques.
Pelvic floor muscle training alone.
There is moderate quality evidence that when behavioural interventions are led by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting, they are effective in improving UI in seniors.
There is limited low-quality evidence that prompted voiding may be effective in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers.
There is insufficient evidence for the following interventions in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers:
habit retraining, and
timed voiding.
PMCID: PMC3377527  PMID: 23074508
4.  Falls prevention for the elderly 
Background
An ageing population, a growing prevalence of chronic diseases and limited financial resources for health care underpin the importance of prevention of disabling health disorders and care dependency in the elderly. A wide variety of measures is generally available for the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries. The spectrum ranges from diagnostic procedures for identifying individuals at risk of falling to complex interventions for the removal or reduction of identified risk factors. However, the clinical and economic effectiveness of the majority of recommended strategies for fall prevention is unclear. Against this background, the literature analyses in this HTA report aim to support decision-making for effective and efficient fall prevention.
Research questions
The pivotal research question addresses the effectiveness of single interventions and complex programmes for the prevention of falls and fall-related injuries. The target population are the elderly (> 60 years), living in their own housing or in long term care facilities. Further research questions refer to the cost-effectiveness of fall prevention measures, and their ethical, social and legal implications.
Methods
Systematic literature searches were performed in 31 databases covering the publication period from January 2003 to January 2010. While the effectiveness of interventions is solely assessed on the basis of randomised controlled trials (RCT), the assessment of the effectiveness of diagnostic procedures also considers prospective accuracy studies. In order to clarify social, ethical and legal aspects all studies deemed relevant with regard to content were taken into consideration, irrespective of their study design. Study selection and critical appraisal were conducted by two independent assessors. Due to clinical heterogeneity of the studies no meta-analyses were performed.
Results
Out of 12,000 references retrieved by literature searches, 184 meet the inclusion criteria. However, to a variable degree the validity of their results must be rated as compromised due to different biasing factors. In summary, it appears that the performance of tests or the application of parameters to identify individuals at risk of falling yields little or no clinically relevant information. Positive effects of exercise interventions may be expected in relatively young and healthy seniors, while studies indicate opposite effects in the fragile elderly. For this specific vulnerable population the modification of the housing environment shows protective effects. A low number of studies, low quality of studies or inconsistent results lead to the conclusion that the effectiveness of the following interventions has to be rated unclear yet: correction of vision disorders, modification of psychotropic medication, vitamin D supplementation, nutritional supplements, psychological interventions, education of nursing personnel, multiple and multifactorial programs as well as the application of hip protectors.
For the context of the German health care system the economic evaluations of fall prevention retrieved by the literature searches yield very few useful results. Cost-effectiveness calculations of fall prevention are mostly based on weak effectiveness data as well as on epidemiological and cost data from foreign health care systems.
Ethical analysis demonstrates ambivalent views of the target population concerning fall risk and the necessity of fall prevention. The willingness to take up preventive measures depends on a variety of personal factors, the quality of information, guidance and decision-making, the prevention program itself and social support.
The analysis of papers regarding legal issues shows three main challenges: the uncertainty of which standard of care has to be expected with regard to fall prevention, the necessity to consider the specific conditions of every single case when measures for fall prevention are applied, and the difficulty to balance the rights to autonomous decision making and physical integrity.
Discussion and conclusions
The assessment of clinical effectiveness of interventions for fall prevention is complicated by inherent methodological problems (esp. absence of blinding) and meaningful clinical heterogeneity of available studies. Therefore meta-analyses are not appropriate, and single study results are difficult to interpret. Both problems also impair the informative value of economic analyses. With this background it has to be stated that current recommendations regarding fall prevention in the elderly are not fully supported by scientific evidence. In particular, for the generation of new recommendations the dependency of probable effects on specific characteristics of the target populations or care settings should be taken into consideration. This also applies to the variable factors influencing the willingness of the target population to take up and pursue preventive measures.
In the planning of future studies equal weight should be placed on methodological rigour (freedom from biases) and transferability of results into routine care. Economic analyses require input of German data, either in form of a “piggy back study“ or in form of a modelling study that reflects the structures of the German health care system and is based on German epidemiological and cost data.
doi:10.3205/hta000099
PMCID: PMC3334922  PMID: 22536299
accidental falls; accidents, home/*; activities of daily living; aged/*; aged/*psychology; adjustment of the living environment; cataract surgery; correction of the visual acuity; customisation of the living environment; diagnosis; dietary supplements; dose-response relationship, drug; EBM; economic evaluation; elderly; environment design; evidence-based medicine; exercise program; exercise/physiology; eye test; eyesight; eyesight test; fall; fall prevention; fall prophylaxis; fall risk; fall risk factors; falling consequences; falling danger; fall-related injuries; fracture; freedom/*; freedom-depriving measures; geriatric nursing home; health technology assessment; hip fracture; hip fractures; hip protectors; homes for the aged; HTA; humans; interventions; medical adjustment; meta-analysis as topic; motor activity; motor activity/drug effects; motor skills; motor function; multi-factorial programs; multimodal programs; nursing homes; peer review; power of movement; prevention; primary prevention; private domesticity; prophylaxis; randomized controlled trial; randomized controlled trials as topic; RCT; review literature as topic; risk assessment; risk factors; risk reduction behavior; seniors; sight; stabilized; systematic review; technology assessment, biomedical; training program; visual acuity; Vitamin D/administration & dosage
5.  Effectiveness and economic evaluation of a nurse delivered home exercise programme to prevent falls. 1: Randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7288):697.
Objectives
To assess the effectiveness of a trained district nurse individually prescribing a home based exercise programme to reduce falls and injuries in elderly people and to estimate the cost effectiveness of the programme.
Design
Randomised controlled trial with one year's follow up.
Setting
Community health service at a New Zealand hospital.
Participants
240 women and men aged 75 years and older.
Intervention
121 participants received the exercise programme (exercise group) and 119 received usual care (control group); 90% (211 of 233) completed the trial.
Main outcome measures
Number of falls, number of injuries resulting from falls, costs of implementing the programme, and hospital costs as a result of falls.
Results
Falls were reduced by 46% (incidence rate ratio 0.54, 95% confidence interval 0.32 to 0.90). Five hospital admissions were due to injuries caused by falls in the control group and none in the exercise group. The programme cost $NZ1803 (£523) (at 1998 prices) per fall prevented for delivering the programme and $NZ155 per fall prevented when hospital costs averted were considered.
Conclusion
A home exercise programme, previously shown to be successful when delivered by a physiotherapist, was also effective in reducing falls when delivered by a trained nurse from within a home health service. Serious injuries and hospital admissions due to falls were also reduced. The programme was cost effective in participants aged 80 years and older compared with younger participants.
What is already known on this topicFalls are the costliest type of injury among elderly people, and the healthcare costs increase with frequency of falls and severity of injuriesAn exercise programme delivered by a physiotherapist was successful in reducing falls and moderate injuries in elderly peopleWhat this study addsAn exercise programme to prevent falls in elderly people worked well when delivered by a district nurse from a home health service in the suburbs of a large cityResearchers, public health administrators, and health practitioners can work together to benefit elderly people in the community
PMCID: PMC30094  PMID: 11264206
6.  Effectiveness and economic evaluation of a nurse delivered home exercise programme to prevent falls. 2: Controlled trial in multiple centres 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7288):701.
Objectives
To assess the effectiveness of trained nurses based in general practices individually prescribing a home exercise programme to reduce falls and injuries in elderly people and to estimate the cost effectiveness of the programme.
Design
Controlled trial with one year's follow up.
Setting
32 general practices in seven southern New Zealand centres.
Participants
450 women and men aged 80 years and older.
Intervention
330 participants received the exercise programme (exercise centres) and 120 received usual care (control centres); 87% (371 of 426) completed the trial.
Main outcome measures
Number of falls, number of injuries resulting from falls, costs of implementing the programme, and hospital costs as a result of falls.
Results
Falls were reduced by 30% in the exercise centres (incidence rate ratio 0.70, 95% confidence interval 0.59 to 0.84). The programme was equally effective in men and women. The programme cost $NZ418 (£121) (at 1998 prices) per person to deliver for one year or $NZ1519 (£441) per fall prevented. Fewer participants had falls resulting in injuries, but there was no difference in the number who had serious injuries and no difference in hospital costs resulting from falls in exercise centres compared with control centres.
Conclusions
An individually tailored exercise programme, delivered by trained nurses from within general practices, was effective in reducing falls in three different centres. This strategy should be combined with other successful interventions to form part of home programmes to prevent falls in elderly people.
What is already known on this topicOne half of those aged 80 years and older will fall in any one year, often with serious health and social consequencesAn exercise programme delivered by a physiotherapist or trained district nurse was successful in reducing falls and moderate injuries in elderly peopleWhat this study addsAn exercise programme to prevent falls in elderly people can be delivered safely and effectively by trained nurses in general practicesThe nurses obtained results that were consistent with the physiotherapist in the research setting and the district nurse in the accompanying paper
PMCID: PMC30095  PMID: 11264207
7.  School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000195.
In a randomized trial of elementary schools in Toronto, Andrew Howard and colleagues show that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with wood fiber surfaces.
Background
The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children, and can result in emergency room treatment and hospital admissions. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. Secondary objectives were to determine if there were differences in overall playground injury rates or in head injury rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing compared to school playgrounds with granite sand surfacing.
Methods and Findings
The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. The risk of arm fracture from playground falls onto granitic sand versus onto engineered wood fibre surfaces was compared, with an outcome measure of estimated arm fracture rate per 100,000 student-months. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list to receive either a granitic sand or an engineered wood fibre playground surface (Fibar), and were not blinded. Schools were visited to ascertain details of the playground and surface actually installed and to observe the exposure to play and to periodically monitor the depth of the surfacing material. Injury data, including details of circumstance and diagnosis, were collected at each school by a prospective surveillance system with confirmation of injury details through a validated telephone interview with parents and also through collection (with consent) of medical reports regarding treated injuries. All schools were recruited together at the beginning of the trial, which is now closed after 2.5 years of injury data collection. Compliant schools included 12 schools randomized to Fibar that installed Fibar and seven schools randomized to sand that installed sand. Noncompliant schools were added to the analysis to complete a cohort type analysis by treatment received (two schools that were randomized to Fibar but installed sand and seven schools that were randomized to sand but installed Fibar). Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–6.9) per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 (95% CI 3.7–21.4) for falls onto Fibar surfaces (p≤0.04905). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 (95% CI 0.26–15.9) per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 (95% CI 5.1–30.1) for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.
Conclusions
Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02647424
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with a place to let steam off, play creatively, socialize, and learn new skills. And, in a world where childhood obesity is a burgeoning problem, playgrounds provide a place where children can be encouraged to exercise. But playgrounds are not without hazards. Even in well-maintained and well-run facilities, children can hurt themselves by falling off climbing frames, monkey bars, and other equipment or by falling from standing height during playground games such as tag. In the US alone, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in playgrounds every year and about 6,400 children are admitted to hospitals because of playground injuries, most of which are bone fractures (broken bones). In fact, playground injuries in the US are more severe and have a higher hospital admission rate than any other sort of child injury except those involving vehicles.
Why Was This Study Done?
Children who fall off playground equipment are nearly four times as likely to break a bone (often in an arm) as children who fall from standing height. To reduce the number of fractures that occur in playgrounds, some governments have limited the height of playground equipment. Some have also set standards for the type of surfaces installed in playgrounds and for the depth of sand or engineered wood fiber in loose fill surfaces. These standards are based on laboratory tests in which headforms (artificial heads) are dropped onto surfaces. However, these tests provide no information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent broken arms and other specific injuries in the real world. In this cluster randomized trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive different interventions), the researchers compare the rates of arm fractures in elementary (primary) school playgrounds in Toronto (Canada) that have wood fiber surfacing with the rates in playgrounds that have granite sand surfacing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 37 elementary schools that had qualified for school board funding for replacement playground equipment to receive either wood fiber (19 schools) or granite sand surfacing (18 schools) in their playgrounds. 19 of the schools complied with their randomization (12 installed fiber and seven installed sand); two schools installed sand although they were randomized to install fiber and seven schools installed fiber instead of sand. The researchers evaluated the playgrounds and their surfaces several times during the 2.5-year study and collected data on how playground injuries happened and types of injuries from the schools, parents, and medical reports. Among the schools that complied with randomization, falls from height into sand resulted in 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months whereas falls into fiber resulted in 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months. Arm fracture rates and other injury rates were also higher for falls from height into fiber than into sand when all the schools that had installed new surfaces were considered. However, the rates of arm fracture and other injuries that did not involve a fall from height did not vary between surfaces.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of arm fractures that occurred during the trial—only 20 children who fell into fiber and two who fell into sand broke an arm. The accuracy of the findings may also be limited by the failure of many schools to comply with randomization although the researchers found no obvious differences between the schools that did and did not comply with randomization that might have affected the trial's outcome. However, even with these limitations, the findings of this real-world study indicate that granitic sand surfaces substantially reduce the risk of arm fractures and other injuries caused by falls from playground equipment when compared with wood fiber surfaces. Thus, because falls from playground equipment are more likely to cause a fracture than falls from standing height, if playground surfacing standards are adjusted to reflect the findings of this study (that is, if sand surfaces are recommended in preference to wood fiber surfaces), many arm fractures in children should be prevented.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at ttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195.
Safe Kids Canada provides information about playground safety and other aspects of childhood safety (in English and French)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization for child health, provides information for parents on playground safety
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the safety of indoor and outdoor play areas
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides fact sheets on playground injuries
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information on playground safety, including resources designed for children such as The Further Adventures of Kidd Safety and Little Big Kids, a booklet on play safety written by children for children
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000195
PMCID: PMC2784292  PMID: 20016688
8.  Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
Objective of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective was to systematically review interventions aimed at preventing or reducing social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, that is, persons ≥ 65 years of age who are not living in long-term care institutions. The analyses focused on the following questions:
Are interventions to reduce social isolation and/or loneliness effective?
Do these interventions improve health, well-being, and/or quality of life?
Do these interventions impact on independent community living by delaying or preventing functional decline or disability?
Do the interventions impact on health care utilization, such as physician visits, emergency visits, hospitalization, or admission to long-term care?
Background: Target Population and Condition
Social and family relationships are a core element of quality of life for seniors, and these relationships have been ranked second, next to health, as the most important area of life. Several related concepts—reduced social contact, being alone, isolation, and feelings of loneliness—have all been associated with a reduced quality of life in older people. Social isolation and loneliness have also been associated with a number of negative outcomes such as poor health, maladaptive behaviour, and depressed mood. Higher levels of loneliness have also been associated with increased likelihood of institutionalization.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Methods of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The scientific evidence base was evaluated through a systematic literature review. The literature searches were conducted with several computerized bibliographic databases for literature published between January 1980 and February 2008. The search was restricted to English-language reports on human studies and excluded letters, comments and editorials, and case reports. Journal articles eligible for inclusion in the review included those that reported on single, focused interventions directed towards or evaluating social isolation or loneliness; included, in whole or in part, community-dwelling seniors (≥ 65 years); included some quantitative outcome measure on social isolation or loneliness; and included a comparative group. Assessments of current practices were obtained through consultations with various individuals and agencies including the Ontario Community Care Access Centres and the Ontario Assistive Devices Program. An Ontario-based budget impact was also assessed for the identified effective interventions for social isolation.
Findings
A systematic review of the published literature focusing on interventions for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors identified 11 quantitative studies. The studies involved European or American populations with diverse recruitment strategies, intervention objectives, and limited follow-up, with cohorts from 10 to 15 years ago involving mainly elderly women less than 75 years of age. The studies involved 2 classes of interventions: in-person group support activities and technology-assisted interventions. These were delivered to diverse targeted groups of seniors such as those with mental distress, physically inactive seniors, low-income groups, and informal caregivers. The interventions were primarily focused on behaviour-based change. Modifying factors (client attitude or preference) and process issues (targeting methods of at-risk subjects, delivery methods, and settings) influenced intervention participation and outcomes.
Both classes of interventions were found to reduce social isolation and loneliness in seniors. Social support groups were found to effectively decrease social isolation for seniors on wait lists for senior apartments and those living in senior citizen apartments. Community-based exercise programs featuring health and wellness for physically inactive community-dwelling seniors also effectively reduced loneliness. Rehabilitation for mild/moderate hearing loss was effective in improving communication disabilities and reducing loneliness in seniors. Interventions evaluated for informal caregivers of seniors with dementia, however, had limited effectiveness for social isolation or loneliness.
Research into interventions for social isolation in seniors has not been broadly based, relative to the diverse personal, social, health, economic, and environmentally interrelated factors potentially affecting isolation. Although rehabilitation for hearing-related disability was evaluated, the systematic review did not locate research on interventions for other common causes of aging-related disability and loneliness, such as vision loss or mobility declines. Despite recent technological advances in e-health or telehealth, controlled studies evaluating technology-assisted interventions for social isolation have examined only basic technologies such as phone- or computer-mediated support groups.
Conclusions
Although effective interventions were identified for social isolation and loneliness in community-dwelling seniors, they were directed at specifically targeted groups and involved only a few of the many potential causes of social isolation. Little research has been directed at identifying effective interventions that influence the social isolation and other burdens imposed upon caregivers, in spite of the key role that caregivers assume in caring for seniors. The evidence on technology-assisted interventions and their effects on the social health and well-being of seniors and their caregivers is limited, but increasing demand for home health care and the need for efficiencies warrant further exploration. Interventions for social isolation in community-dwelling seniors need to be researched more broadly in order to develop effective, appropriate, and comprehensive strategies for at-risk populations.
PMCID: PMC3377559  PMID: 23074510
9.  Effectiveness of a multifactorial falls prevention program in community-dwelling older people when compared to usual care: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial (Prevquedas Brazil) 
BMC Geriatrics  2013;13:27.
Background
Falling in older age is a major public health concern due to its costly and disabling consequences. However very few randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have been conducted in developing countries, in which population ageing is expected to be particularly substantial in coming years. This article describes the design of an RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of a multifactorial falls prevention program in reducing the rate of falls in community-dwelling older people.
Methods/design
Multicentre parallel-group RCT involving 612 community-dwelling men and women aged 60 years and over, who have fallen at least once in the previous year. Participants will be recruited in multiple settings in Sao Paulo, Brazil and will be randomly allocated to a control group or an intervention group. The usual care control group will undergo a fall risk factor assessment and be referred to their clinicians with the risk assessment report so that individual modifiable risk factors can be managed without any specific guidance. The intervention group will receive a 12-week Multifactorial Falls Prevention Program consisting of: an individualised medical management of modifiable risk factors, a group-based, supervised balance training exercise program plus an unsupervised home-based exercise program, an educational/behavioral intervention. Both groups will receive a leaflet containing general information about fall prevention strategies. Primary outcome measures will be the rate of falls and the proportion of fallers recorded by monthly falls diaries and telephone calls over a 12 month period. Secondary outcomes measures will include risk of falling, fall-related self-efficacy score, measures of balance, mobility and strength, fall-related health services use and independence with daily tasks. Data will be analysed using the intention-to-treat principle.The incidence of falls in the intervention and control groups will be calculated and compared using negative binomial regression analysis.
Discussion
This study is the first trial to be conducted in Brazil to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention to prevent falls. If proven to reduce falls this study has the potential to benefit older adults and assist health care practitioners and policy makers to implement and promote effective falls prevention interventions.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01698580)
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-27
PMCID: PMC3606610  PMID: 23497000
Accidental falls; Clinical trial; Aged; Exercise; Education
10.  Economic evaluation of a community based exercise programme to prevent falls 
OBJECTIVE—To assess the incremental costs and cost effectiveness of implementing a home based muscle strengthening and balance retraining programme that reduced falls and injuries in older women.
DESIGN—An economic evaluation carried out within a randomised controlled trial with two years of follow up. Participants were individually prescribed an exercise programme (exercise group, n=116) or received usual care and social visits (control group, n=117).
SETTING—17 general practices in Dunedin, New Zealand.
PARTICIPANTS—Women aged 80 years and older living in the community and invited by their general practitioner to take part.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Number of falls and injuries related to falls, costs of implementing the intervention, healthcare service costs resulting from falls and total healthcare service costs during the trial. Cost effectiveness was measured as the incremental cost of implementing the exercise programme per fall event prevented.
MAIN RESULTS—27% of total hospital costs during the trial were related to falls. However, there were no significant differences in health service costs between the two groups. Implementing the exercise programme for one and two years respectively cost $314 and $265 (1995 New Zealand dollars) per fall prevented, and $457 and $426 per fall resulting in a moderate or serious injury prevented.
CONCLUSIONS—The costs resulting from falls make up a substantial proportion of the hospital costs for older people. Despite a reduction in falls as a result of this home exercise programme there was no significant reduction in healthcare costs. However, the results reported will provide information on the cost effectiveness of the programme for those making decisions on falls prevention strategies.


Keywords: falls; exercise; elderly
doi:10.1136/jech.55.8.600
PMCID: PMC1731948  PMID: 11449021
11.  The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall induced injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials 
Objective To determine whether, and to what extent, fall prevention exercise interventions for older community dwelling people are effective in preventing different types of fall related injuries.
Data sources Electronic databases (PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and CINAHL) and reference lists of included studies and relevant reviews from inception to July 2013.
Study selection Randomised controlled trials of fall prevention exercise interventions, targeting older (>60 years) community dwelling people and providing quantitative data on injurious falls, serious falls, or fall related fractures.
Data synthesis Based on a systematic review of the case definitions used in the selected studies, we grouped the definitions of injurious falls into more homogeneous categories to allow comparisons of results across studies and the pooling of data. For each study we extracted or calculated the rate ratio of injurious falls. Depending on the available data, a given study could contribute data relevant to one or more categories of injurious falls. A pooled rate ratio was estimated for each category of injurious falls based on random effects models.
Results 17 trials involving 4305 participants were eligible for meta-analysis. Four categories of falls were identified: all injurious falls, falls resulting in medical care, severe injurious falls, and falls resulting in fractures. Exercise had a significant effect in all categories, with pooled estimates of the rate ratios of 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.51 to 0.77, 10 trials) for all injurious falls, 0.70 (0.54 to 0.92, 8 trials) for falls resulting in medical care, 0.57 (0.36 to 0.90, 7 trials) for severe injurious falls, and 0.39 (0.22 to 0.66, 6 trials) for falls resulting in fractures, but significant heterogeneity was observed between studies of all injurious falls (I2=50%, P=0.04).
Conclusions Exercise programmes designed to prevent falls in older adults also seem to prevent injuries caused by falls, including the most severe ones. Such programmes also reduce the rate of falls leading to medical care.
doi:10.1136/bmj.f6234
PMCID: PMC3812467  PMID: 24169944
12.  Support and assessment for fall emergency referrals (SAFER 2) research protocol: cluster randomised trial of the clinical and cost effectiveness of new protocols for emergency ambulance paramedics to assess and refer to appropriate community-based care 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e002169.
Introduction
Emergency calls to ambulance services are frequent for older people who have fallen, but ambulance crews often leave patients at the scene without ongoing care. Evidence shows that when left at home with no further support older people often experience subsequent falls which result in injury and emergency-department attendances. SAFER 2 is an evaluation of a new clinical protocol which allows paramedics to assess and refer older people who have fallen, and do not need hospital care, to community-based falls services. In this protocol paper, we report methods and progress during trial implementation. SAFER 2 is recruiting patients through three ambulance services. A successful trial will provide robust evidence about the value of this new model of care, and enable ambulance services to use resources efficiently.
Design
Pragmatic cluster randomised trial.
Methods and analysis
We randomly allocated 25 participating ambulance stations (clusters) in three services to intervention or control group. Intervention paramedics received training and clinical protocols for assessing and referring older people who have fallen to community-based falls services when appropriate, while control paramedics deliver care as usual. Patients are eligible for the trial if they are aged 65 or over; resident in a participating falls service catchment area; and attended by a trial paramedic following an emergency call coded as a fall without priority symptoms. The principal outcome is the rate of further emergency contacts (or death), for any cause and for falls. Secondary outcomes include further falls, health-related quality of life, ‘fear of falling’, patient satisfaction reported by participants through postal questionnaires at 1 and 6 months, and quality and pathways of care at the index incident. We shall compare National Health Service (NHS) and patient/carer costs between intervention and control groups and estimate quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained from the intervention and thus incremental cost per QALY. We shall estimate wider system effects on key-performance indicators. We shall interview 60 intervention patients, and conduct focus groups with contributing NHS staff to explore their experiences of the assessment and referral service. We shall analyse quantitative trial data by ‘treatment allocated’; and qualitative data using content analysis.
Ethics and dissemination
The Research Ethics Committee for Wales gave ethical approval and each participating centre gave NHS Research and Development approval. We shall disseminate study findings through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Trial Registration: ISRCTN 60481756
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002169
PMCID: PMC3533098  PMID: 23148348
Accident & Emergency Medicine; Injury Prevention
13.  Evaluation of the effect of patient education on rates of falls in older hospital patients: Description of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:14.
Background
Accidental falls by older patients in hospital are one of the most commonly reported adverse events. Falls after discharge are also common. These falls have enormous physical, psychological and social consequences for older patients, including serious physical injury and reduced quality of life, and are also a source of substantial cost to health systems worldwide. There have been a limited number of randomised controlled trials, mainly using multifactorial interventions, aiming to prevent older people falling whilst inpatients. Trials to date have produced conflicting results and recent meta-analyses highlight that there is still insufficient evidence to clearly identify which interventions may reduce the rate of falls, and falls related injuries, in this population.
Methods and design
A prospective randomised controlled trial (n = 1206) is being conducted at two hospitals in Australia. Patients are eligible to be included in the trial if they are over 60 years of age and they, or their family or guardian, give written consent. Participants are randomised into three groups. The control group continues to receive usual care. Both intervention groups receive a specifically designed patient education intervention on minimising falls in addition to usual care. The education is delivered by Digital Video Disc (DVD) and written workbook and aims to promote falls prevention activities by participants. One of the intervention groups also receives follow up education training visits by a health professional. Blinded assessors conduct baseline and discharge assessments and follow up participants for 6 months after discharge. The primary outcome measure is falls by participants in hospital. Secondary outcome measures include falls at home after discharge, knowledge of falls prevention strategies and motivation to engage in falls prevention activities after discharge. All analyses will be based on intention to treat principle.
Discussion
This trial will examine the effect of a single intervention (specifically designed patient education) on rates of falls in older patients in hospital and after discharge. The results will provide robust recommendations for clinicians and researchers about the role of patient education in this population. The study has the potential to identify a new intervention that may reduce rates of falls in older hospital patients and could be readily duplicated and applied in a wide range of clinical settings.
Trial Registration
ACTRN12608000015347
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-9-14
PMCID: PMC2688498  PMID: 19393046
14.  An interdisciplinary intervention to prevent falls in community-dwelling elderly persons: protocol of a cluster-randomized trial [PreFalls] 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:7.
Background
Prevention of falls in the elderly is a public health target in many countries around the world. While a large number of trials have investigated the effectiveness of fall prevention programs, few focussed on interventions embedded in the general practice setting and its related network. In the Prevent Falls (PreFalls) trial we aim to investigate the effectiveness of a pre-tested multi-modal intervention compared to usual care in this setting.
Methods/Design
PreFalls is a controlled multicenter prospective study with cluster-randomized allocation of about 40 general practices to an experimental or a control group. We aim to include 382 community dwelling persons aged 65 and older with an increased risk of falling. All participating general practitioners are trained to systematically assess the risk of falls using a set of validated tests. Patients from intervention practices are invited to participate in a 16-weeks exercise program with focus on fall prevention delivered by specifically trained local physiotherapists. Patients from practices allocated to the control group receive usual care. Main outcome measure is the number of falls per individual in the first 12 months (analysis by negative binomial regression). Secondary outcomes include falls in the second year, the proportion of participants falling in the first and the second year, falls associated with injury, risk of falls, fear of falling, physical activity and quality of life.
Discussion
Reducing falls in the elderly remains a major challenge. We believe that with its strong focus on a both systematic and realistic fall prevention strategy adapted to primary care setting PreFalls will be a valuable addition to the scientific literature in the field.
Trial registration
NCT01032252
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-7
PMCID: PMC3050704  PMID: 21329525
15.  Prevention of fall incidents in patients with a high risk of falling: design of a randomised controlled trial with an economic evaluation of the effect of multidisciplinary transmural care 
BMC Geriatrics  2007;7:15.
Background
Annually, about 30% of the persons of 65 years and older falls at least once and 15% falls at least twice. Falls often result in serious injuries, such as fractures. Therefore, the prevention of accidental falls is necessary. The aim is to describe the design of a study that evaluates the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a multidisciplinary assessment and treatment of multiple fall risk factors in independently living older persons with a high risk of falling.
Methods/Design
The study is designed as a randomised controlled trial (RCT) with an economic evaluation. Independently living persons of 65 years and older who recently experienced a fall are interviewed in their homes and screened for risk of recurrent falling using a validated fall risk profile. Persons at low risk of recurrent falling are excluded from the RCT. Persons who have a high risk of recurrent falling are blindly randomised into an intervention (n = 100) or usual care (n = 100) group. The intervention consists of a multidisciplinary assessment and treatment of multifactorial fall risk factors. The transmural multidisciplinary appraoch entails close cooperation between geriatrician, primary care physician, physical therapist and occupational therapist and can be extended with other specialists if relevant. A fall calendar is used to record falls during one year of follow-up. Primary outcomes are time to first and second falls. Three, six and twelve months after the home visit, questionnaires for economic evaluation are completed. After one year, during a second home visit, the secondary outcome measures are reassessed and the adherence to the interventions is evaluated. Data will be analysed according to the intention-to-treat principle and also an on-treatment analysis will be performed.
Discussion
Strengths of this study are the selection of persons at high risk of recurrent falling followed by a multidisciplinary intervention, its transmural character and the evaluation of adherence. If proven effective, implementation of our multidisciplinary assessment followed by treatment of fall risk factors will reduce the incidence of falls.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN11546541.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-7-15
PMCID: PMC1933430  PMID: 17605771
16.  Characteristics and Circumstances of Falls in a Hospital Setting 
OBJECTIVE
To describe the epidemiology of hospital inpatient falls, including characteristics of patients who fall, circumstances of falls, and fall-related injuries.
DESIGN
Prospective descriptive study of inpatient falls. Data on patient characteristics, fall circumstances, and injury were collected through interviews with patients and/or nurses and review of adverse event reports and medical records. Fall rates and nurse staffing levels were compared by service.
SETTING
A 1,300-bed urban academic hospital over 13 weeks.
PATIENTS
All inpatient falls reported for medicine, cardiology, neurology, orthopedics, surgery, oncology, and women and infants services during the study period were included. Falls in the psychiatry service and falls during physical therapy sessions were excluded.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
A total of 183 patients fell during the study period. The average age of patients who fell was 63.4 years (range 17 to 96). Many falls were unassisted (79%) and occurred in the patient's room (85%), during the evening/overnight (59%), and during ambulation (19%). Half of the falls (50%) were elimination related, which was more common in patients over 65 years old (83% vs 48%; P < .001). Elimination-related falls increased the risk of fall-related injury (adjusted odds ratio, 2.4; 95% confidence interval 1.1 to 5.3). The medicine and neurology services had the highest fall rates (both were 6.12 falls per 1,000 patient-days), and the highest patient to nurse ratios (6.5 and 5.3, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS
Falls in the hospital affect young as well as older patients, are often unassisted, and involve elimination-related activities. Further studies are necessary to prevent hospital falls and reduce fall injury rates.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30387.x
PMCID: PMC1492485  PMID: 15209586
accidental falls; hospital; injury; risk factors; epidemiology
17.  Falls and consequent injuries in hospitalized patients: effects of an interdisciplinary falls prevention program 
Background
Patient falls in hospitals are common and may lead to negative outcomes such as injuries, prolonged hospitalization and legal liability. Consequently, various hospital falls prevention programs have been implemented in the last decades. However, most of the programs had no sustained effects on falls reduction over extended periods of time.
Methods
This study used a serial survey design to examine in-patient fall rates and consequent injuries before and after the implementation of an interdisciplinary falls prevention program (IFP) in a 300-bed urban public hospital. The population under study included adult patients, hospitalized in the departments of internal medicine, geriatrics, and surgery. Administrative patient data and fall incident report data from 1999 to 2003 were examined and summarized using frequencies, proportions, means and standard deviations and were analyzed accordingly.
Results
A total of 34,972 hospitalized patients (mean age: 67.3, SD ± 19.3 years; female 53.6%, mean length of stay: 11.9 ± 13.2 days, mean nursing care time per day: 3.5 ± 1.4 hours) were observed during the study period. Overall, a total of 3,842 falls affected 2,512 (7.2%) of the hospitalized patients. From these falls, 2,552 (66.4%) were without injuries, while 1,142 (29.7%) falls resulted in minor injuries, and 148 (3.9%) falls resulted in major injuries. The overall fall rate in the hospitals' patient population was 8.9 falls per 1,000 patient days. The fall rates fluctuated slightly from 9.1 falls in 1999 to 8.6 falls in 2003. After the implementation of the IFP, in 2001 a slight decrease to 7.8 falls per 1,000 patient days was observed (p = 0.086). The annual proportion of minor and major injuries did not decrease after the implementation of the IFP. From 1999 to 2003, patient characteristics changed in terms of slight increases (female gender, age, consumed nursing care time) or decreases (length of hospital stay), as well as the prevalence of fall risk factors increased up to 46.8% in those patients who fell.
Conclusion
Following the implementation of an interdisciplinary falls prevention program, neither the frequencies of falls nor consequent injuries decreased substantially. Future studies need to incorporate strategies to maximize and evaluate ongoing adherence to interventions in hospital falls prevention programs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-69
PMCID: PMC1534028  PMID: 16759386
18.  Tailored Education for Older Patients to Facilitate Engagement in Falls Prevention Strategies after Hospital Discharge—A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63450.
Background
The aims of the study were to evaluate the effect of providing tailored falls prevention education in hospital on: i) engagement in targeted falls prevention behaviors in the month after discharge: ii) patients’ self-perceived risk and knowledge about falls and falls prevention strategies after receiving the education.
Methods
A pilot randomized controlled trial (n = 50): baseline and outcome assessments conducted by blinded researchers. Participants: hospital inpatients 60 years or older, discharged to the community. Participants were randomized into two groups. The intervention was a tailored education package consisting of multimedia falls prevention information with trained health professional follow-up, delivered in addition to usual care. Outcome measures were engagement in falls prevention behaviors in the month after discharge measured at one month after discharge with a structured survey, and participants’ knowledge, confidence and motivation levels before and after receiving the education. The feasibility of providing the intervention was examined and falls outcomes (falls, fall-related injuries) were also collected.
Results
Forty-eight patients (98%) provided follow-up data. The complete package was provided to 21 (84%) intervention group participants. Participants in the intervention group were significantly more likely to plan how to safely restart functional activities [Adjusted odds ratio 3.80, 95% CI (1.07, 13.52), p = 0.04] and more likely to complete other targeted behaviors such as completing their own home exercise program [Adjusted odds ratio 2.76, 95% CI (0.72, 10.50), p = 0.14] than the control group. The intervention group was significantly more knowledgeable, confident and motivated to engage in falls prevention strategies after receiving the education than the control group. There were 23 falls (n = 5 intervention; n = 18 control) and falls rates were 5.4/1000 patient days (intervention); 18.7/1000 patient days (control).
Conclusion
This tailored education was received positively by older people, resulted in increased engagement in falls prevention strategies after discharge and is feasible to deliver to older hospital patients.
Trial registration
The study was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; ACTRN12611000963921 on 8th November 2011.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063450
PMCID: PMC3662677  PMID: 23717424
19.  Relationship between location and activity in injurious falls: an exploratory study 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:40.
Background
Knowledge about the circumstances under which injurious falls occur could provide healthcare workers with better tools to prevent falls and fall-related injuries. Therefore, we assessed whether older persons who sustain an injurious fall can be classified into specific fall types, based on a combination of fall location and activity up to the moment of the fall. In addition, we assessed whether specific injurious fall types are related to causes of the fall, consequences of the fall, socio-demographic characteristics, and health-related characteristics.
Methods
An exploratory, cross-sectional study design was used to identify injurious fall types. The study population comprised 333 community-dwelling Dutch elderly people aged 65 years or over who attended an accident and emergency department after a fall. All participants received a self-administered questionnaire after being discharged home. The questionnaire comprised items concerning circumstances of the injurious fall, causes of the fall, consequences of the fall, socio-demographic characteristics and health-related characteristics. Injurious fall types were distinguished by analyzing data by means of HOMALS (homogeneity analysis by means of alternating least squares).
Results
We identified 4 injurious fall types: 1) Indoor falls related to lavatory visits (hall and bathroom); 2) Indoor falls during other activities of daily living; 3) Outdoor falls near the home during instrumental activities of daily living; 4) Outdoor falls away from home, occurring during walking, cycling, and shopping for groceries. These injurious fall types were significantly related to age, cause of the fall, activity avoidance and daily functioning.
Conclusion
The face validity of the injurious fall typology is obvious. However, we found no relationship between the injurious fall types and severity of the consequences of the fall. Nevertheless, there appears to be a difference between the prevalence of fractures and the cause of the fall between the injurious fall types. Our data suggests that with regard to prevention of serious injuries, we should pay special attention to outdoor fallers and indoor fallers during lavatory visits. In addition, we should have special attention for causes of the fall. However, the conclusions reached in this exploratory analysis are tentative and need to be validated in a separate dataset.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-40
PMCID: PMC2902483  PMID: 20565871
20.  Community falls prevention for people who call an emergency ambulance after a fall: randomised controlled trial 
Objective To evaluate whether a service to prevent falls in the community would help reduce the rate of falls in older people who call an emergency ambulance when they fall but are not taken to hospital.
Design Randomised controlled trial.
Setting Community covered by four primary care trusts, England.
Participants 204 adults aged more than 60 living at home or in residential care who had fallen and called an emergency ambulance but were not taken to hospital.
Interventions Referral to community fall prevention services or standard medical and social care.
Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the rate of falls over 12 months, ascertained from monthly diaries. Secondary outcomes were scores on the Barthel index, Nottingham extended activities of daily living scale, and falls efficacy scale at baseline and by postal questionnaire at 12 months. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Results 102 people were allocated to each group. 99 (97%) participants in the intervention group received the intervention. Falls diaries were analysed for 88.6 person years in the intervention group and 84.5 person years in the control group. The incidence rates of falls per year were 3.46 in the intervention group and 7.68 in the control group (incidence rate ratio 0.45, 95% confidence interval 0.35 to 0.58, P<0.001). The intervention group achieved higher scores on the Barthel index and Nottingham extended activities of daily living and lower scores on the falls efficacy scale (all P<0.05) at the 12 month follow-up. The number of times an emergency ambulance was called because of a fall was significantly different during follow-up (incidence rate ratio 0.60, 95% confidence interval 0.40 to 0.92, P=0.018).
Conclusion A service to prevent falls in the community reduced the fall rate and improved clinical outcome in the high risk group of older people who call an emergency ambulance after a fall but are not taken to hospital.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN67535605.
doi:10.1136/bmj.c2102
PMCID: PMC2868162  PMID: 20460331
21.  Intervention to prevent further falls in older people who call an ambulance as a result of a fall: a protocol for the iPREFER randomised controlled trial 
Background
An increasing number of falls result in an emergency call and the subsequent dispatch of paramedics. In the absence of physical injury, abnormal physiological parameters or change in usual functional status, it could be argued that routine conveyance by ambulance to the Emergency Department (ED) is not the most effective or efficient use of resources. Further, it is likely that non-conveyed older fallers have the potential to benefit from timely access to fall risk assessment and intervention. The aim of this randomised controlled trial is to evaluate the effect of a timely and tailored falls assessment and management intervention on the number of subsequent falls and fall-related injuries for non-conveyed older fallers.
Methods
Community dwelling people aged 65 years or older who are not conveyed to the ED following a fall will be eligible to be visited at home by a research physiotherapist. Consenting participants will receive individualised intervention strategies based on risk factors identified at baseline. All pre-test measures will be assessed prior to randomisation. Post-test measures will be undertaken by a researcher blinded to group allocation 6 months post-baseline. Participants in the intervention group will receive individualised pro-active fall prevention strategies from the clinical researcher to ensure that risk factors are addressed adequately and interventions carried out. The primary outcome measure will be the number of falls recorded by a falls diary over a 12 month period. Secondary outcome measures assessed six months after baseline will include the subsequent use of medical and emergency services and uptake of recommendations. Data will be analysed using the intention-to-treat principle.
Discussion
As there is currently little evidence regarding the effectiveness or feasibility of alternate models of care following ambulance non-conveyance of older fallers, there is a need to explore assessment and intervention programs to help reduce subsequent falls, related injuries and subsequent use of health care services. By linking existing services rather than setting up new services, this pragmatic trial aims to utilise the health care system in an efficient and timely manner.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN 12611000503921
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-360
PMCID: PMC3849451  PMID: 24070456
Ambulance; Accidental falls; Aged; Prevention; Intervention
22.  Effect of Facilitation of Local Maternal-and-Newborn Stakeholder Groups on Neonatal Mortality: Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001445.
Lars Åke Persson and colleagues conduct a cluster randomised control in northern Vietnam to analyze the effect of the activity of local community-based maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Facilitation of local women's groups may reportedly reduce neonatal mortality. It is not known whether facilitation of groups composed of local health care staff and politicians can improve perinatal outcomes. We hypothesised that facilitation of local stakeholder groups would reduce neonatal mortality (primary outcome) and improve maternal, delivery, and newborn care indicators (secondary outcomes) in Quang Ninh province, Vietnam.
Methods and Findings
In a cluster-randomized design 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to control. Laywomen facilitated monthly meetings during 3 years in groups composed of health care staff and key persons in the communes. A problem-solving approach was employed. Births and neonatal deaths were monitored, and interviews were performed in households of neonatal deaths and of randomly selected surviving infants. A latent period before effect is expected in this type of intervention, but this timeframe was not pre-specified. Neonatal mortality rate (NMR) from July 2008 to June 2011 was 16.5/1,000 (195 deaths per 11,818 live births) in the intervention communes and 18.4/1,000 (194 per 10,559 live births) in control communes (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.96 [95% CI 0.73–1.25]). There was a significant downward time trend of NMR in intervention communes (p = 0.003) but not in control communes (p = 0.184). No significant difference in NMR was observed during the first two years (July 2008 to June 2010) while the third year (July 2010 to June 2011) had significantly lower NMR in intervention arm: adjusted OR 0.51 (95% CI 0.30–0.89). Women in intervention communes more frequently attended antenatal care (adjusted OR 2.27 [95% CI 1.07–4.8]).
Conclusions
A randomized facilitation intervention with local stakeholder groups composed of primary care staff and local politicians working for three years with a perinatal problem-solving approach resulted in increased attendance to antenatal care and reduced neonatal mortality after a latent period.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN44599712
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over the past few years, there has been enormous international effort to meet the target set by Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two-thirds and to reduce the number of maternal deaths by three-quarters, respectively, from the 1990 level by 2015. There has been some encouraging progress and according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, in 2011, just under 7 million children aged under 5 years died, a fall of almost 3 million from a decade ago. However, currently, 41% of all deaths among children under the age of 5 years occur around birth and the first 28 days of life (perinatal and neonatal mortality). Simple interventions can substantially reduce neonatal deaths and there have been several international, national, and local efforts to implement effective care packages to help reduce the number of neonatal deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In order for these interventions to be most effective, it is important that the local community becomes involved. Community mobilization, especially through local women's groups, can empower women to prioritize specific interventions to help improve their own health and that of their baby. An alternative strategy might be to mobilize people who already have responsibility to promote health and welfare in society, such as primary care staff, village health workers, and elected political representatives. However, it is unclear if the activities of such stakeholder groups result in improved neonatal survival. So in this study from northern Vietnam, the researchers analyzed the effect of the activity of local maternal-and-newborn stakeholder groups on neonatal mortality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2008 and 2011, the researchers conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in 90 communes within the Quang Ninh province of northeast of Vietnam: 44 communes were allocated to intervention and 46 to the control. The local women's union facilitated recruitment to the intervention, local stakeholder groups (Maternal and Newborn Health Groups), which comprised primary care staff, village health workers, women's union representatives, and the person with responsibility for health in the commune. The groups' role was to identify and prioritize local perinatal health problems and implement actions to help overcome these problems.
Over the three-year period, the Maternal and Newborn Health Groups in the 44 intervention communes had 1,508 meetings. Every year 15–27 unique problems were identified and addressed 94–151 times. The problem-solving processes resulted in an annual number of 19–27 unique actions that were applied 297–649 times per year. The top priority problems and actions identified by these groups dealt with antenatal care attendance, post-natal visits, nutrition and rest during pregnancy, home deliveries, and breast feeding. Neonatal mortality in the intervention group did not change over the first two years but showed a significant improvement in the third year. The three leading causes of death were prematurity/low birth-weight (36%), intrapartum-related neonatal deaths (30%), and infections (15%). Stillbirth rates were 7.4 per 1,000 births in the intervention arm and 9.0 per 1,000 births in the control arm. There was one maternal death in the intervention communes and four in the control communes and there was a significant improvement in antenatal care attendance in the intervention arm. However, there were no significant differences between the intervention and control groups of other outcomes, including tetanus immunization, delivery preparedness, institutional delivery, temperature control at delivery, early initiation of breastfeeding, or home visit of a midwife during the first week after delivery.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that local stakeholder groups comprised of primary care staff and local politicians using a problem-solving approach may help to reduce the neonatal mortality rate after three years of implementation (although the time period for an expected reduction in neonatal mortality was not specified before the trial started) and may also increase the rate of antenatal care attendance. However, the intervention had no effect on other important outcomes such as the rate of institutional delivery and breast feeding. This study used a novel approach of community-based activity that was implemented into the public sector system at low cost. A further reduction in neonatal deaths around delivery might be achieved by neonatal resuscitation training and home visits to the mother and her baby.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445.
The World Health Organization provides comprehensive statistics on neonatal mortality
The Healthy Newborn Network has information on community interventions to help reduce neonatal mortality from around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001445
PMCID: PMC3653802  PMID: 23690755
23.  Falls among Adult Patients Hospitalized in the United States: Prevalence and Trends 
Journal of patient safety  2013;9(1):13-17.
Objectives
The purpose of this study was to provide normative data on fall prevalence in US hospitals by unit type and to determine the 27-month secular trend in falls prior to the implementation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) rule which does not reimburse hospitals for care related to injury resulting from hospital falls.
Methods
We used data from the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) collected between July 1, 2006 and September 30, 2008 to estimate prevalence and secular trends of falls occurring in adult medical, medical-surgical and surgical nursing units. More than 88 million patient days (pd) of observation were contributed from 6,100 medical, surgical, and medical-surgical nursing units in 1,263 hospitals across the United States.
Results
A total of 315,817 falls occurred (rate=3.56 falls/1,000 pd) during the study period, of which 82,332 (26.1%) resulted in an injury (rate=0.93/1,000 pd). Both total fall and injurious fall rates were highest in medical units (fall rate=4.03/1,000 pd; injurious fall rate=1.08/1,000 pd) and lowest in surgery units (fall rate=2.76/1,000 pd; injurious fall rate=0.67/1,000 pd). Falls (0.4% decrease/quarter, p<0.0001) and injurious falls (1% decrease per quarter, p<0.0001) both decreased over the 27-month study.
Conclusions
In this large sample, fall and injurious fall prevalence varied by nursing unit type in US hospitals. Over the 27 month study, there was a small, but statistically significant, decrease in falls (p<0.0001) and injurious falls (p<0.0001).
doi:10.1097/PTS.0b013e3182699b64
PMCID: PMC3572247  PMID: 23143749
Accidental falls; epidemiology; hospital units; injuries/epidemiology; databases
24.  Translating a Multifactorial Fall Prevention Intervention into Practice: A Controlled Evaluation of a Fall Prevention Clinic 
Although multifactorial fall prevention interventions have been shown to reduce falls and injurious falls, their translation into clinical settings has been limited. We describe a hospital-based, fall prevention clinic established to increase availability of preventive care for falls. Outcomes for forty-three adults aged 65+ seen during the clinic’s first six months of operation were compared to outcomes for 86 age-, gender-, and race-matched controls; all persons included in analyses received primary care at the hospital’s geriatrics clinic. Non-significant differences in falls, injurious falls, and fall-related healthcare use by study group in multivariate adjusted models were observed, likely due to the small, fixed sample size. The percent experiencing any injurious falls during the follow-up period was comparable for fall clinic visitors and controls (14% vs. 13%), despite a dramatic difference at baseline (42% of clinic visitors vs. 15% of controls). Fall-related healthcare use was higher for clinic visitors during the baseline period (21%, vs. 12% for controls) and decreased slightly (to 19%) during follow-up; differences in fall-related healthcare use by study group from baseline to follow-up were non-significant. These findings, although preliminary due both to the small sample size and the baseline difference between the groups in fall rates, suggest that being seen in a fall prevention clinic may reduce injurious falls. Additional studies will be necessary to conclusively determine the effects of multifactorial fall risk assessment and management delivered by mid-level providers working in real-world, clinical practice settings on key outcomes, including injurious falls, downstream fall-related healthcare use, and costs.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02683.x
PMCID: PMC2976670  PMID: 20370859
fall prevention clinic; fall prevention; falls; injurious falls; emergency department; hospitalization; utilization
25.  The effect of Tai Chi Chuan in reducing falls among elderly people: design of a randomized clinical trial in the Netherlands [ISRCTN98840266] 
BMC Geriatrics  2006;6:6.
Background
Falls are a significant public health problem. Thirty to fifty percent of the elderly of 65 years and older fall each year. Falls are the most common type of accident in this age group and can result in fractures and subsequent disabilities, increased fear of falling, social isolation, decreased mobility, and even an increased mortality. Several forms of exercise have been associated with a reduced risk of falling and with a wide range of physiological as well as psychosocial health benefits. Tai Chi Chuan seems to be the most promising form of exercise in the elderly, but the evidence is still controversial.
In this article the design of a randomized clinical trial is presented. The trial evaluates the effect of Tai Chi Chuan on fall prevention and physical and psychological function in older adults.
Methods/Design
270 people of seventy years and older living at home will be identified in the files of the participating general practitioners. People will be asked to participate when meeting the following inclusion criteria: have experienced a fall in the preceding year or suffer from two of the following risk factors: disturbed balance, mobility problems, dizziness, or the use of benzodiazepines or diuretics. People will be randomly allocated to either the Tai Chi Chuan group (13 weeks, twice a week) or the no treatment control group.
The primary outcome measure is the number of new falls, measured with a diary. The secondary outcome measures are balance, fear of falling, blood pressure, heart rate, lung function parameters, physical activity, functional status, quality of life, mental health, use of walking devices, medication, use of health care services, adjustments to the house, severity of fall incidents and subsequent injuries. Process parameters will be measured to evaluate the Tai Chi Chuan intervention. A cost-effectiveness analysis will be carried out alongside the evaluation of the clinical results. Follow-up measurements will be collected at 3, 6 and 12 months after randomization.
Discussion
As far as we know this is the first trial in Europe considering Tai Chi Chuan and fall prevention. This project will answer a pragmatic research question regarding the efficacy of Tai Chi Chuan regarding fall reduction.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-6-6
PMCID: PMC1513573  PMID: 16573825

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