OBJECTIVE: Exercise is beneficial for fall prevention. Targeting interventions to people who fall more may lead to greater population impacts. As trials have used varying methods to assess participant risk level, prospectively-measured control group fall rates may provide a more accurate and poolable way to understand intervention effects in different sub-populations. We aimed to explore differences in effectiveness of fall prevention exercise according to prospectively-measured fall rate.
METHOD: Secondary analysis of a Cochrane review investigating exercise for fall prevention in peopled aged ≥60 years. Meta-analysis assessed the impact of exercise on fall rate. Studies were dichotomized according to the median control group fall rate (0.87, IQR 0.54-1.37 falls/person-year). Meta-regression explored the effects on falls in trials with higher and lower control group fall rates.
RESULTS: Exercise reduced the rate of falls in trials with higher (rate ratio 0.68, 95% CI 0.61-0.76, 31 studies) and lower control group fall rates (rate ratio 0.88, 95% CI 0.79-0.97, 31 studies, p=0.006 for difference in effects).
CONCLUSIONS: Exercise prevents falls, moreso in trials with higher control group fall rates. As past falls strongly predict future falls, targeting interventions to those with more past falls may be more efficient than other falls risk screening methods.