Preventing falls – Introduction

Click the play button to hear about how Lesley Day became interested in falls prevention.

Falls are one of the major causes of admission to hospital for elderly people. Falls in the elderly can result from deteriorating physical health and fitness, failing vision and hazards around the home. Preventing falls in the elderly has enormous health, social and economic benefits. In Victoria, the annual cost of falls is estimated to be over $500 million. This study examined three interventions designed to reduce the risk of falling – exercise, vision correction and removal of home hazards – alone and in combination.

The study was a collaboration between The City of Whitehorse, Dr. Lesley Day, Dr. Brian Fildes and Michael Fitzharris (researchers from the Monash University Accident Research Centre), Dr. Harold Flamer (a geriatrician from the Peter James Centre), Dr. Stephen Lord (a researcher from Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute, Sydney) and Dr. Ian Gordon (a statistician from the Statistical Consulting Centre at The University of Melbourne).

The key question that the study team wanted to answer was:

Which intervention or combination of interventions best reduces the risk of falls in elderly people living at home?


1993 Whitehorse Council asked Monash University Accident Research Centre to implement a falls prevention program
Commonwealth Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services approves a feasibility study of a falls prevention program
Early 1994 Proposal for falls prevention study to Commonwealth Government
1994 Ethics approval obtained from Monash University standing committee on ethics in research involving humans
April 1995 City of Whitehorse approved community-based study
1995 Study design finalised
Falls program co-ordinator appointed
Home assessors recruited and trained
January 1996 Data collection commenced
July 1999 Data collection completed
1999-2000 Data analysis
2001 Report produced
2002 “Randomised factorial trial of falls prevention among older people living in their homes” appears in the British Medical Journal
Today Monash University Accident Research Centre