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Introduction

Older adults value their independence and a fall can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient. More than one-third of people aged 65 and older fall each year, and those who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. Fall injuries are responsible for significant disability, loss of independence, and reduced quality of life. In 2000, direct medical costs for fall injuries totaled $19 billion. However, we know that falls are not an inevitable result of aging. In recent years, systematic reviews of fall intervention studies have established that prevention interventions can reduce falls.

Purpose

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the CDC Compendium of Effective Fall Interventions to help public health practitioners use the best scientific evidence to effectively address the problem of falls. The Compendium includes 22 specific interventions for community-dwelling older adults that have rigorous scientific evidence of effectiveness, and provides relevant information about these interventions to public health practitioners, aging service providers, and others who wish to implement fall prevention programs.

Process

More than one-third of people aged 65 and older fall each year, and those who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again.

CDC gathered information about science-based fall prevention intervention studies that met the following criteria:

  • Published in the peer-reviewed literature
  • Included community-dwelling adults aged 65 or older
  • Used a randomized controlled study design
  • Measured falls as a primary outcome (did not include intervention studies using other outcomes such as balance improvement or reduced fear of falling)
  • Demonstrated statistically significant positive results in reducing older adult falls

This selection process was used by CDC in the first edition of the Compendium to identify 14 studies of effective fall interventions published before December 31, 2004. Another literature review was conducted in 2010 that identified an additional 8 interventions published from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2009; these are included in this second edition.

See Appendix A for details about the selection process.

Content

The Compendium categorizes interventions into 3 groups: exercise-based, home
modification, and multifaceted interventions. Information about each
intervention was obtained from the published study and by directly contacting
the principal investigator. Each is presented using a standardized format that
includes a short summary of the research study and results as well as a longer section describing relevant details about the intervention. The intervention description includes information about the purpose, program setting, content, number of sessions, duration, provider, provider’s training, key elements, available intervention materials, and contact information for the study’s principal investigator.

The Compendium also contains appendices. These include figures illustrating the
intervention study selection process; a bibliography of the research studies; tables
comparing the participating populations, study characteristics, and intervention
characteristics of the 22 studies; and supplemental materials, such as assessment
instruments and evaluation materials, provided by the principal investigators.

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