Economic studies of seniors at high risk of falls

Falls are a major public health problem in BC and around the world. Every year, approximately one third of adults in the community aged 65 years and older will fall. In BC, falls are responsible for 85 per cent of the $211 million annual direct cost of unintentional injuries. In New Zealand, a physiotherapist-initiated, progressive, home-based strength and balance training program reduced falls by 35 per cent; it proved cost-effective in persons aged 80 years and older. This program is currently undergoing a randomized clinical trial in BC for high-risk seniors. However, no economic outcomes have been published for any intervention to prevent falls in Canada. Jennifer Davis was previously funded by MSFHR for her early PhD work with the Falls Prevention Clinic at Vancouver General Hospital. Her current studies use economic data from the BC fall prevention trial to determine the cost implications of this program. Comparing this new program with the current standard of care, she will calculate the dollar cost per fall avoided, and the dollar cost per Quality Adjusted Life Year (a measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived). She aims to perform cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses of the possible benefit of various types of exercise interventions compared with usual care. Davis’ long term research goal is to pioneer the improved economic evaluation of the burden of falls among seniors in Canada. This work will provide essential data for policy makers allocate health care resources in the most effective way.