BACKGROUND: Falls and fall-related injuries among older adults are a serious threat to the quality of life and result in high healthcare and societal costs. Despite evidence that falls can be prevented by fall prevention programmes, practical barriers may challenge the implementation of these programmes. In this study, we will investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of In Balance, a fourteen-week, low-cost group fall prevention intervention, that is widely implemented in community-dwelling older adults with an increased fall risk in the Netherlands. Moreover, we will be the first to include cost-effectiveness for this intervention. Based on previous evidence of the In Balance intervention in pre-frail older adults, we expect this intervention to be (cost-)effective after implementation-related adjustments on the target population and duration of the intervention.
METHODS: This study is a single-blinded, multicenter randomized controlled trial. The target sample will consist of 256 community-dwelling non-frail and pre-frail adults of 65 years or older with an increased risk of falls. The intervention group receives the In Balance intervention as it is currently widely implemented in Dutch healthcare, which includes an educational component and physical exercises. The physical exercises are based on Tai Chi principles and focus on balance and strength. The control group receives general written physical activity recommendations. Primary outcomes are the number of falls and fall-related injuries over 12 months follow-up. Secondary outcomes consist of physical performance measures, physical activity, confidence, health status, quality of life, process evaluation and societal costs. Mixed model analyses will be conducted for both primary and secondary outcomes and will be stratified for non-frail and pre-frail adults.
DISCUSSION: This trial will provide insight into the clinical and societal impact of an implemented Dutch fall prevention intervention and will have major benefits for older adults, society and health insurance companies. In addition, results of this study will inform healthcare professionals and policy makers about timely and (cost-)effective prevention of falls in older adults.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register: NL9248 (registered February 13, 2021).