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Accidental Fall Rates in Community-Dwelling Adults Compared to Cancer Survivors During and Post-Treatment: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

Marie-Louise Bird
Michael J. Cheney
Andrew D. Williams
ONF 2016, 43(2), E64-E72 DOI: 10.1188/16.ONF.E64-E72

Purpose/Objectives: To identify whether rates of accidental falls are greater for cancer survivors living in the community during or post-treatment than people with no history of cancer.

Data Sources: In a systematic literature review that was conducted in December 2013, MEDLINE®, EMBASE, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched for cancer or oncology and accidental falls in prospective and retrospective cohort and case-controlled studies. Studies were included if they were conducted in a community-dwelling adult population and excluded if they were conducted in acute hospitals and hospice.

Data Synthesis: Of 484 articles initially identified, 10 were included in the review. Of these, three included a control or comparator group and had comparable outcome measures to include in a meta-analysis. The risk ratio for falls for the group with cancer was 1.11.

Conclusions: Accidental fall rates in community-dwelling adults with a cancer diagnosis are greater than rates of falls in adults without cancer; this elevated rate remains after acute care is finished. Patients undergoing active treatment have greater rates of falls. Pain, fatigue, and deconditioning may affect fall rates in the longer term.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses have the capacity to reduce risk of falls in community-dwelling cancer survivors during or post-treatment through provision of information, advocacy, and support around pain and fatigue management and promotion of physical activity.

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