Foot problems as a risk factor for falls in community-dwelling older people: A systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Foot problems are common in older people. The objective of this systematic review was to determine whether foot problems increase the risk of falling in community-dwelling older people. METHODS:Electronic databases were searched from inception to May 2018. To be eligible for inclusion, papers needed to (i) include community-dwelling older participants, (ii) document falls either retrospectively or prospectively, and (iii) document or assess the presence of foot problems. Screening and data extraction were performed by two independent assessors, with disagreements resolved by consensus. RESULTS:A total of 146 papers were screened by title and abstract, and nine met the inclusion criteria. An additional six eligible papers were identified by searching the reference lists of included papers, resulting in a total of 15 papers. Quantitative synthesis indicated that older people who fell were more likely to have foot pain, hallux valgus, lesser toe deformity, plantar fasciitis, reduced ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, reduced toe plantarflexion strength, impaired tactile sensitivity and increased plantar pressures when walking. Meta-analysis indicated that fallers were more likely to have foot pain (pooled odds ratio [OR] 1.95, 95% CI 1.38-2.76, p < 0.001), hallux valgus (pooled OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.19-3.00, p = 0.007) and lesser toe deformity (pooled OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.07-2.59, p = 0.020). CONCLUSION:Foot problems, particularly foot pain, hallux valgus and lesser toe deformity, are associated with falls in older people. Documentation of foot problems and referral to foot care specialists should therefore be a routine component of falls risk assessment and prevention.

publication date

  • 2018