Falls prevalence and risk factors in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: A systematic review

Cristino C. Oliveira, Raquel Annoni, Annemarie L. Lee, Jennifer McGinley, Louis B. Irving, Linda Denehy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Falls are frequent in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and related to increased morbidity, mortality, and health care costs in older adults. This systematic review aims to synthesise the falls outcomes and to examine risk factors for falls in the COPD literature. Methods: The protocol was registered in the Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO: CRD42015017257). Searches were updated and operated in five electronic databases in December 2019 for studies reporting falls outcomes and risk factors in people with COPD. Meta-analyses were conducted on the prevalence of fallers and frequent fallers. Quality assessment appraised the risk of bias of included articles. Results: Twenty-three studies met the eligibility criteria and were retained after the full-text review. In the meta-analyses, the pooled prevalence of COPD fallers was 30% (95%CI 19%–42%), and the pooled prevalence of frequent fallers (≥2 falls in the analysed period of occurrence) was 24% (95%CI 2%–56%). The falls incidence rate in stable COPD varied from 1.17 to 1.49 falls/person-year. Different study methodologies were identified. Age, female gender, falls history, the number of medications, comorbidities, coronary heart disease, use of supplemental oxygen, impaired balance performance and smoking history were risk factors for falls identified in stable COPD. Conclusion: Prevalence of fallers, frequent fallers, and falls incidence rate have been reported in the COPD literature using a varying methodology. People with stable COPD present with ageing and disease-related risk factors for falls. Further research using the recommended prospective recording is needed in COPD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106284
Number of pages12
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Accidental falls
  • Chronic obstructive
  • Pulmonary disease
  • Review

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