Disentangling interventions to reduce fear of falling in community-dwelling older people: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention components

M. Kruisbrink*, R. Crutzen, G.I.J.M. Kempen, K. Delbaere, T. Ambergen, K.L. Cheung, D. Kendrick, S. Iliffe, G.A.R. Zijlstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Purpose: Fear of falling (FoF) is a common and debilitating problem for older people. Most multicomponent interventions show only moderate effects. Exploring the effective components may help in the optimization of treatments for FoF. Materials and methods: In a systematic review of five scientific literature databases, we identified randomized controlled trials with older community-dwelling people that included FoF as an outcome. There was no restriction on types of interventions. Two reviewers extracted information about outcomes and content of interventions. Intervention content was coded with a coding scheme of 68 intervention components. We compared all studies with a component to those without using univariate meta-regressions. Results: Sixty-six studies, reporting on 85 interventions, were included in the systematic review. In the meta-regressions (n = 49), few components were associated with intervention effects at the first available follow up after the intervention, but interventions with meditation, holistic exercises (such as Tai Chi or Pilates) or body awareness were significantly more effective than interventions without these components. Interventions with self-monitoring, balance exercises, or tailoring were less effective compared to those without these components. Conclusions: The identified components may be important for the design and optimization of treatments to reduce FoF. Implications for rehabilitation Fear of falling (FoF) is a common and debilitating issue among older people and multicomponent interventions usually show only small to moderate effects on FoF. This review and meta-analysis investigated 68 intervention components and their relation to intervention effects on FoF. Interventions with meditation, holistic exercises (such as Tai Chi), or body awareness are more effective than interventions without these components. Clinicians aiming to reduce FoF may recommend selected interventions to older people taking into account the current knowledge of intervention components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6247-6257
Number of pages11
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number21
Early online date8 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2022


  • Meta-analysis
  • systematic review
  • fear of falling
  • falls efficacy
  • aged
  • accidental falls
  • intervention component
  • RISK
  • CARE

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