Public Health Article

Interventions to prevent disability in frail community-dwelling elderly: A systematic review

Review Quality Rating: 8 (strong)

Citation: Daniels R, van Rossum E., de Witte L., Kempen GI, & van den Heuvel W. (2008). Interventions to prevent disability in frail community-dwelling elderly: A systematic review. BMC Health Services Research, 8, 278.

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BACKGROUND: There is an interest for intervention studies aiming at the prevention of disability in community-dwelling physically frail older persons, though an overview on their content, methodological quality and effectiveness is lacking.
METHODS: A search for clinical trials involved databases PubMed, CINAHL and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and manually hand searching. Trials that included community-dwelling frail older persons based on physical frailty indicators and used disability measures for outcome evaluation were included. The selection of papers and data-extraction was performed by two independent reviewers. Out of 4602 titles, 10 papers remained that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 9 were of sufficient methodological quality and concerned 2 nutritional interventions and 8 physical exercise interventions.
RESULTS: No evidence was found for the effect of nutritional interventions on disability measures. The physical exercise interventions involved 2 single-component programs focusing on lower extremity strength and 6 multi-component programs addressing a variety of physical parameters. Out of 8 physical exercise interventions, three reported positive outcomes for disability. There was no evidence for the effect of single lower extremity strength training on disability. Differences between the multi-component interventions in e.g. individualization, duration, intensity and setting hamper the interpretation of the elements that consistently produced successful outcomes.
CONCLUSION: There is an indication that relatively long-lasting and high-intensive multicomponent exercise programs have a positive effect on ADL and IADL disability for community-living moderate physically frail older persons. Future research into disability prevention in physical frail older persons could be directed to more individualized and comprehensive programs.


Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Community, Education / Awareness & Skill Development / Training, High Risk Group (e.g., adolescent parents, elderly, homeless, substance users), Home, Injury Prevention/Safety, Nutrition, Phone, Physical Activity, Senior Health, Seniors (60+ years)

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