Effectiveness of a home-based cognitive behavioral program to manage concerns about falls in community-dwelling, frail older people: results of a randomized controlled trial

T.A.C. Dorresteijn*, G.A.R. Zijlstra, A.W. Ambergen, K. Delbaere, J.W. Vlaeyen, G.I.J.M. Kempen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Concerns about falls are common among older people. These concerns, also referred to as fear of falling, can have serious physical and psychosocial consequences, such as functional decline, increased risk of falls, activity restriction, and lower social participation. Although cognitive behavioral group programs to reduce concerns about falls are available, no home-based approaches for older people with health problems, who may not be able to attend such group programs are available yet. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a home-based cognitive behavioral program on concerns about falls, in frail, older people living in the community.

Methods: In a randomized controlled trial in the Netherlands, 389 people aged 70 years and older, in fair or poor perceived health, who reported at least some concerns about falls and related activity avoidance were allocated to a control (n = 195) or intervention group (n = 194). The intervention was a home-based, cognitive behavioral program consisting of seven sessions including three home visits and four telephone contacts. The program aims to instill adaptive and realistic views about fall risks via cognitive restructuring and to increase activity and safe behavior using goal setting and action planning and was facilitated by community nurses. Control group participants received usual care. Outcomes at 5 and 12 months follow-up were concerns about falls, activity avoidance due to concerns about falls, disability and falls.

Results: At 12 months, the intervention group showed significant lower levels of concerns about falls compared to the control group. Furthermore, significant reductions in activity avoidance, disability and indoor falls were identified in the intervention group compared with the control group. Effect sizes were small to medium. No significant difference in total number of falls was noted between the groups.

Conclusions: The home-based, cognitive behavioral program significantly reduces concerns about falls, related activity avoidance, disability and indoor falls in community-living, frail older people. The program may prolong independent living and provides an alternative for those people who are not able or willing to attend group programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2016


  • Fear of falling
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Accidental falls
  • Activity of daily life
  • Aged
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • FEAR
  • RISK


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