Objectives: To determine the characteristics and the effectiveness of hospital fall prevention programs.
Design: Systematic review and Meta-analysis.
Setting: Inclusion of prospective controlled-design studies reporting the effectiveness of fall prevention programs in hospitals.
Results: Eight studies met the inclusion criteria, of which four studies tested multifactorial interventions. Although these studies took place in hospitals, most were conducted on long-stay and rehabilitation units. For analysis of the number of falls, one unifactorial and two multifactorial studies showed a significant reduction of 30% to 49% in the intervention group, with the greatest effect obtained in the unifactorial study that assessed a pharmacological intervention. The pooled relative risk of a fall (RRfall) for the four multifactorial studies became nonsignificant after adjustment for clustering (RRfall = 0.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.65–1.03). No studies reported a significant reduction, either single or pooled, in the number of fallers in the intervention group (pooled relative risk of being a faller = 0.87, 95%CI = 0.70-1.08).
Conclusion: This meta-analysis found no conclusive evidence that hospital fall prevention programs can reduce the number of falls or fallers, although more studies are needed to confirm the tendency observed in the analysis of individual studies that targeting a patient’s most important risk factors for falls actively helps in reducing the number of falls. These interventions seem to be useful only on long-stay care units.