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Does a home-based strength and balance programme in people aged ≥80 years provide the best value for money to prevent falls? A systematic review of economic evaluations of falls prevention interventions


Objectives To investigate the value for money of strategies to prevent falls in older adults living in the community.

Design Systematic review of peer reviewed journal articles reporting an economic evaluation of a falls prevention intervention as part of a randomised controlled trial or a controlled trial, or using an analytical model. MEDLINE, PUBMED, EMBASE and NHS EED databases were searched to identify cost-effectiveness, cost–utility and cost–benefit studies from 1945 through July 2008.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome measure was incremental cost-effectiveness, cost–utility and cost–benefit ratios in the reported currency and in pounds sterling at 2008 prices. The quality of the studies was assessed using two instruments: (1) an economic evaluation checklist developed by Drummond and colleagues and (2) the Quality of Health Economic Studies instrument.

Results Nine studies meeting our inclusion criteria included eight cost-effectiveness analyses, one cost–utility and one cost–benefit analysis. Three effective falls prevention strategies were cost saving in a subgroup of participants: (1) an individually customised multifactorial programme in those with four or more of the eight targeted fall risk factors, (2) the home-based Otago Exercise Programme in people ≥80 years and (3) a home safety programme in the subgroup with a previous fall. These three findings were from six studies that scored ≥75% on the Quality of Health Economic Studies instrument.

Conclusions Best value for money came from effective single factor interventions such as the Otago Exercise Programme which was cost saving in adults 80 years and older. This programme has broad applicability thus warranting warrants health policy decision-makers’ close scrutiny.

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