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Dosage for cost-effective exercise-based falls prevention programs for older people: a systematic review of economic evaluations

Stanley John Winser, Chan Hei Tung Fion, Lam Ho, Lau Sze Chung, Lau Tsz Ching, Tom Kin Lok Felix, Priya Kannan
Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2019 July 12
31306811

BACKGROUND: Falls in older people is a global public health concern. Physical exercise is a useful and potentially cost-saving treatment option to prevent falls in older people.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to 1) summarize the research literature regarding the cost-effectiveness of exercise-based programs for falls prevention in older people and 2) discuss the implications of the review's findings for clinical practice and future research on the dosage of cost-effective exercise-based falls prevention programs for older people.

METHODS: Multiple databases were searched from inception until February 2019. Studies were included if they 1) were randomized controlled trials with an economic evaluation of exercise-based falls prevention programs for people ≥ 60 years old and 2) assessed the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, cost per quality-adjusted life year, incremental cost per fall and benefit-to-cost ratio of programs. Methodological quality was assessed with the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale and quality of economic evaluation with the Quality of Health Economic Studies.

RESULTS: We included 12 studies (3668 older people). Interventions for falls prevention were either exercise-only or multifactorial programs. Five studies of high economic quality and 2 of high methodological quality provided evidence supporting exercise-only programs as cost-effective for preventing falls in older people. Specifically, a tailored exercise program including strengthening of lower extremities, balance training, cardiovascular exercise, stretching and functional training of moderate intensity performed twice per week with each session lasting 60 min for ≥ 6 months delivered in groups of 3 to 8 participants with home-based follow-up appears to be cost-effective in preventing falls in older people.

CONCLUSION: There is evidence to support exercise-based interventions as cost-effective treatment for preventing falls. Further research is needed to fully establish the cost-effectiveness of such programs, especially in both developing and underdeveloped countries.

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