Hip protectors to prevent hip fractures - a waste of time and money?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: An estimated 30-60% of older
adults fall every year and about 1% of falls result in a hip fracture. Hip fracture is a serious and growing problem, with a 3-10 fold rise in worldwide incidence predicted by 2050 (Gullberg, et al 1997). Hip protectors are underwear with built in protection for the greater trochanter. They are designed to prevent hip fractures by dispersing or absorbing the force of a fall. Trials
published to 2001 were broadly supportive of
the effectiveness of hip protectors, and this
was reflected in a Cochrane review in 2000.
However, earlier trials were methodologically
flawed and subsequent trials have not demonstrated effectiveness. The most recent Cochrane review describes only a marginal benefit (Parker et al, 2005).
Review and Discussion: This presentation
evaluates the current evidence for the use
of hip protectors and discusses the use of
that evidence by manufacturers, suppliers,
professional groups and guideline developers.
Interestingly, despite the limitations of the
evidence base, most advice has been broadly
supportive. Reasons for this are proposed
and discussed in the context of a critique of
evidence-based healthcare. protectors. However, the available evidence can be used in different ways and for different purposes by those with an interest in promoting
the use of hip protectors. A conservative
approach is warranted, where, if we cannot
demonstrate that hip protectors work, we
presume that they do not. This presentation will be of use to practitioners wanting to evaluate the evidence base for hip protectors (and other recommended interventions) on behalf of clients. It will also be of interest to policy makers who must assess the claims made for health care technologies as part of the decisionmaking process.
Recommended reading:
Gullberg B, Johnell O, Kanis JA (1997) Worldwide
projections for hip fracture. Osteoporos
Int. 7(5):407-13 .
Parker MJ, Gillespie WJ, Gillespie LD (2005) Hip
protectors for preventing hip fractures in older
people. The Cochrane Database of Systematic
Reviews Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001255.pub3. DOI:
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 05 May 2007


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