Background: multifactorial falls prevention programmes for older people have been proved to reduce falls. However, evidence of their cost-effectiveness is mixed.
Design: economic evaluation alongside pragmatic randomised controlled trial.
Intervention: randomised trial of 364 people aged ≥70, living in the community, recruited via GP and identified as high risk of falling. Both arms received a falls prevention information leaflet. The intervention arm were also offered a (day hospital) multidisciplinary falls prevention programme, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, nurse, medical review and referral to other specialists.
Measurements: self-reported falls, as collected in 12 monthly diaries. Levels of health resource use associated with the falls prevention programme, screening (both attributed to intervention arm only) and other health-care contacts were monitored. Mean NHS costs and falls per person per year were estimated for both arms, along with the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) and cost effectiveness acceptability curve.
Results: in the base-case analysis, the mean falls programme cost was £349 per person. This, coupled with higher screening and other health-care costs, resulted in a mean incremental cost of £578 for the intervention arm. The mean falls rate was lower in the intervention arm (2.07 per person/year), compared with the control arm (2.24). The estimated ICER was £3,320 per fall averted.
Conclusions: the estimated ICER was £3,320 per fall averted. Future research should focus on adherence to the intervention and an assessment of impact on quality of life.