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Modelling the impact, costs and benefits of falls prevention measures to support policy-makers and program planners


Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #286 [2009]

Authors: Lesley Day, Effie Hoareau, Caroline Finch, James Harrison, Leonie Segal, Tom Bolton, Clare Bradley, Soufiane Boufous, Shahid Ullah and the National Injury Prevention Working Group

Full report in .pdf format [847 KB]


The ageing of the population is one of the major transformations being experienced in Australia , with falls a significant threat to safety, health and independence. There is now substantial evidence regarding effective interventions for preventing falls among older people living independently in the community. The aim of this project was to develop and apply a framework for epidemiological modelling of the population level impact of proven interventions on future fall rates, providing a powerful policy-setting tool for prevention. We used the Cochrane review to source current best efficacy evidence from randomised controlled trials which have provided evidence of minimising the incidence of falls among older people living in the community. Six interventions defined in that review as most promising for community dwelling older people were modelled. Additionally, one other intervention not in the Cochrane review, expedited cataract removal, was also modelled. Occupational therapy delivered home hazard assessment and modification for those with recent fall history, as modelled here, represents the best falls prevention investment. Cardiac pacing is a good falls prevention investment over the medium term, although is unlikely to have a major impact on population level hospital admission rates. The relative cost-effectiveness of psychotropic medication withdrawal appears high, although some implementation issues would need to be addressed and further costs included. Multi-disciplinary multi-factorial risk management represents good clinical practice for high risk individuals, but is not relatively cost-effective for widespread implementation. Tai chi programs may represent good value for falls prevention resources, if local circumstances allow the cost per participant to be substantially lower than modelled here. Predicted reductions in national fall-related hospital admission rates for people aged 65 years and over ranged from 0.4% to 4.6% for five of the six falls prevention strategies implemented over a one year period. These reductions, however, suggest that substantial investment in falls prevention will be required to have large effects on the fall-related hospitalisation rates. In addition, t he cost-effectiveness of a number of the modelled interventions could be improved by variations to the implementation processes such as measures to increase uptake, or decrease the cost per participant. The framework developed provides the potential for the research evidence base to better guide policy and practice with respect to reducing falls and future fall-related hospitalisation rates.

Sponsoring organisation - This project was funded through the Australian Government Department for Health and Ageing (Falls and Community Injury Grants Program), and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (Principal (CF) and Senior (LD)) Research Fellowships