Programme frequency, type, time and duration do not explain the effects of balance exercise in older adults: A systematic review with a meta-regression analysis

Melanie K Farlie, Lauren Robins, Romi Haas, Jennifer L Keating, Elizabeth Molloy, Terry P Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The objective of this systematic review was to examine the effects of different balance exercise interventions compared with non-balance exercise controls on balance task performance in older adults. Design: Systematic review. Data sources: Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, EMBASE, Scopus and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched until July 2017. Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomised trials of balance exercise interventions for older adults were identified for extraction of eligible randomised trials. Eligibility criteria for inclusion of randomised trials in meta-analyses were comparison of a balance exercise intervention with a control group that did not perform balance exercises, report of at least one end-intervention balance outcome measurement that was consistent with the five subgroups of balance exercise identified, and full-text article available in English. Results: Ninety-five trials were included in meta-analyses and 80 in meta-regressions. For four balance exercise types (control centre of mass, multidimensional, mobility and reaching), significant effects for balance exercise interventions were found in meta-analyses (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.31-0.50), however with considerable heterogeneity in observed effects (I2: 50.4%-80.6%). Risk of bias assessments (Physiotherapy Evidence Database score and funnel plots) did not explain heterogeneity. One significant relationship identified in the meta-regressions of SMD and balance exercise frequency, time and duration explained 2.1% of variance for the control centre of mass subgroup. Conclusion: Limitations to this study included the variability in design of balance interventions, incomplete reporting of data and statistical heterogeneity. The design of balance exercise programmes provides inadequate explanation of the observed benefits of these interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1002
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • effectiveness
  • elderly people
  • exercise
  • exercise rehabilitation

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