Background: foot problems are independent risk factors for falls in older people. Podiatrists diagnose and treat a wide range of problems affecting the feet, ankles and lower limbs. However, the effectiveness of podiatry interventions to prevent falls in older people is unknown. This systematic review examined podiatry interventions for falls prevention delivered in the community and in care homes.
Methods: systematic review and meta-Analysis. We searched multiple electronic databases with no language restrictions. Randomised or quasi-randomised-controlled trials documenting podiatry interventions in older people (aged 60+) were included. Two reviewers independently applied selection criteria and assessed methodological quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. TiDieR guidelines guided data extraction and where suitable statistical summary data were available, we combined the selected outcome data in pooled meta-Analyses.
Results: from 35,857 titles and 5,201 screened abstracts, nine studies involving 6,502 participants (range 40-3,727) met the inclusion criteria. Interventions were single component podiatry (two studies), multifaceted podiatry (three studies), or multifactorial involving other components and referral to podiatry component (four studies). Seven studies were conducted in the community and two in care homes. Quality assessment showed overall low risk for selection bias, but unclear or high risk of detection bias in 4/9 studies. Combining falls rate data showed significant effects for multifaceted podiatry interventions compared to usual care (falls rate ratio 0.77 [95% CI 0.61, 0.99]); and multifactorial interventions including podiatry (falls rate ratio: 0.73 [95% CI 0.54, 0.98]). Single component podiatry interventions demonstrated no significant effects on falls rate.
Conclusions: multifaceted podiatry interventions and multifactorial interventions involving referral to podiatry produce significant reductions in falls rate. The effect of multi-component podiatry interventions and of podiatry within multifactorial interventions in care homes is unknown and requires further trial data.
- care homes
- community dwelling
- older people
- systematic review