The effect of complex interventions on supporting self-care among community-dwelling older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Kwan Ching Wong, Kam Yuet Wong, Wing Fai Yeung, Ka Pik Katherine Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: self-care is critical to enable community-dwelling older adults to live independently. Complex interventions have emerged as a strategy to support self-care, but their effectiveness is unknown. Our objective was to review systematically their effectiveness on both positive (increased scores in self-rated health, Activities of Daily Living, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, quality of life) and negative aspects (increased incidence of falls, fear of falling, hospital and nursing home admission, increased depression score), and to determine which intervention components explain the observed effects. Methods: CINAHL, MEDLINE, British Nursing Index, PsycInfo and Cochrane CENTRAL were searched from January 2006 to October 2016. Randomised controlled trials providing at least two of these components: individual assessment, care planning or provision of information were reviewed. Outcomes were pooled by random-effects meta-analysis. Results: twenty-two trials with 14,364 participants were included with a low risk of bias. Pooled effects showed significant benefits on positive aspects including self-rated health [standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.01-0.17] and the mental subscale of quality of life (SMD 0.44, 95% CI 0.09-0.80) as well as on the negative aspect of incidence of falls [odds ratio (OR) 0.60, 95% CI 0.46-0.79]. There was no significant improvement in ADL, IADL, overall quality of life, fear of falling, reduction in health service utilisation or depression levels. Meta-regression and subgroup analysis did not identify any specific component or characteristic in complex interventions which explained these effects. Conclusion: based on current evidence, supporting self-care in community-dwelling older adults using complex interventions effectively increases self-rated health, reduces the occurrence of falls and improves the mental subscale of quality of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Community
  • Complex interventions
  • Meta-analysis
  • Older adults
  • Self-care
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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