Risk factors for recurrent falls in older adults: A systematic review with meta-analysis

D. A. Jehu, J. C. Davis, R. S. Falck, K. J. Bennett, D. Tai, M. F. Souza, B. R. Cavalcante, M. Zhao, T. Liu-Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Older adults who fall recurrently (i.e., 2 or more falls/year) are at risk of functional decline and mortality. Understanding which risk factors for recurrent falls are most important will inform secondary fall prevention strategies that can reduce recurrent falls risk. Thus, we conducted a systematic review with meta-analysis to determine the relative risk of recurrent falls for different types of falls risk factors. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases were searched on April 25, 2019 (Prospero Registration: CRD42019118888). We included peer-reviewed prospective studies which examined risk factors that contributed to recurrent falls in adults aged ≥ 60 years. Using the falls risk classification system of Lord and colleagues, we classified each risk factor into one of the following domains: 1) balance and mobility; 2) environmental; 3) psychological; 4) medical; 5) medication; 6) sensory and neuromuscular; or 7) sociodemographic. We calculated the summary relative risk (RR) for each domain and evaluated the risk of bias and quality of reporting. Twenty-two studies were included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Four domains predicted recurrent falls: balance and mobility (RR:1.32;95 % CI:[1.10, 1.59]), medication (RR:1.53;95 % CI:[1.11, 2.10]), psychological (RR:1.35;95 % CI:[1.03, 1.78]), and sensory and neuromuscular (RR:1.51;95 % CI:[1.18, 1.92]). Each of these four domains can be viewed as a marker of frailty. The risk of bias was low, and the study quality was high (minimum:19/22). Older adults with markers of frailty are up to 53 % more likely to experience recurrent falls. Strategies that identify and resolve frailty markers should be a frontline approach to preventing recurrent falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Older adults
  • Recurrent falls
  • Risk factors
  • Secondary prevention
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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