Landmark publication of World Falls Guidelines
The World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults: A Global Initiative were published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society. These guidelines were developed by the World Falls Task Force, which assembled 96 multidisciplinary experts from 39 countries across five continents, with representation from 36 scientific and academic societies.
The World Guidelines for Falls aim to provide a framework and expert recommendations to healthcare and other professionals working with older adults on how to identify and assess the risk of falls. They recommend which interventions, alone or in combination, should be offered to older people as part of a person-centred approach to preventing and managing falls.
Falls become increasingly common as we get older. People aged 65 and over have a 30% chance of falling at least once a year and this increases to a 50% chance of falling at least once a year1 in those aged over 80. Although some falls may appear minor, the human impact of falling can be devastating for older people from a psychological and physical perspective. Falls can result in loss of confidence, loss of independence, pain, injury, depression and even death.
The Global Burden of Disease study reported nearly 17 million years of life lost from falls in 2017.2 The number of falls and related injuries is likely to increase, partly as the global population of older adults grows, but also because of the rising prevalence of multimorbidity and frailty.3 It is therefore highly significant that falls experts from across the globe have come together to agree and document guidelines for healthcare professionals to use in the prevention and management of falls.
Expertise and insights from falls specialists, scientific and academic societies, and patient and carer feedback have contributed to an extensive three-year process, culminating in the publication of these peer-reviewed guidelines. The worldwide multidisciplinary nature of this group of experts and stakeholders makes them truly ground-breaking and relevant for a global healthcare audience.
Professor Nathalie van der Velde of Amsterdam University Medical Centres and Co-principal Author of the World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults: A Global Initiative, commented:
The World Falls Guideline Task Force was created following discussions in 2019 to reflect new evidence in falls prevention and management and respond to current service challenges. Our expert group conducted research that identified gaps in and inconsistencies between the existing guidelines developed nationally and by specialist international bodies. This concluded that a new set of clinical practice guidelines should be developed to address these issues. We are proud to have created robust guidelines that will be internationally applicable and will help healthcare professionals around the world to prevent and manage falls in their older patients.’’
Professor Rowan Harwood, Editor of Age and Ageing journal, commented:
We are delighted to publish the ‘World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults’ in the British Geriatrics Society’s academic journal, Age and Ageing. Publishing such guidelines for the benefit of clinicians worldwide in a prestigious, peer-reviewed journal brings them to the attention of a global audience, informing future policy, practice and commissioning decisions. Congratulations to the 96 contributing experts for this landmark publication.”
Professor Tahir Masud, Past President of the British Geriatrics Society, commented:
Along with multidisciplinary colleagues from across the field of geriatric medicine, I am honoured and excited to launch the World Guidelines for Falls Prevention and Management for Older Adults at the 18th International Congress of the European Geriatric Medicine Society on 30 October 2022. We are privileged to be joined by world-leading expert clinicians, researchers, and academics for the launch and publication. Achieving a global consensus on best practice has the potential to transform the prevention and management of falls worldwide and to have a real impact on quality of life for older people."
1. Falls in older people: assessing risk and prevention
2. Evaluation of Clinical Practice Guidelines on Fall Prevention and Management for Older Adults: A Systematic Review
3. 2019 surveillance of falls in older people: assessing risk and prevention