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Original Investigation
March 28, 2011

Patient Education to Prevent Falls Among Older Hospital Inpatients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Allied Health Clinical Research Unit, Physiotherapy Department, Monash University and Southern Health, Cheltenham, Victoria, Australia (Dr Haines); Physiotherapy Department (Ms Hill and Dr Brauer) and Division of Occupational Therapy (Dr Hoffmann), University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; LaTrobe University, Northern Health and the National Ageing Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Dr Hill); Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, and Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Queensland Health, Brisbane (Mr McPhail); School of Community and Health Sciences, City University, London, England (Dr Oliver); and Western Australia Centre for Health and Ageing, Centre for Medical Research, and School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia (Dr Beer).

Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(6):516-524. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.444

Falls are a leading patient safety incident event in general hospitals and are especially common in older patients.1 Approximately 30% of falls result in injury,2 the consequences of which may cause increased length of stay or risk of institutionalization for the patient,3 and legal complaint with subsequent litigation against the health service.4

Randomized trials of single interventions to prevent falls in hospitals have not identified a statistically significant reduction in falls outcomes.5-8 Multifactorial interventions have also been investigated with mixed results.2,9-11 A recent Cochrane review of these trials12 found that although multifactorial interventions appeared effective for preventing falls in hospitals, no recommendations could be made regarding effective components of these multifactorial interventions. In addition, compared with individual interventions, multifactorial falls programs may (1) be more difficult and costly to implement, (2) create confusion for individual patients, and (3) reduce the effectiveness of constituent components.13 Hence, there is need to identify single intervention strategies that prevent falls across a mixture of hospital wards.