Is safe footwear a thing? Falls, footwear and older adults

Ms Annette Davis1,2, Dr Cylie Williams2,3, Professor Terry Haines2

1Monash Health, Cheltenham, Australia, 2Monash University, Frankston, Australia, 3Peninsula Health , Frankston, Australia


Aim: As the population ages, falls are increasing costs for health services worldwide. Footwear has often been implicated in falls. This study investigates older people’s indoor and outdoor footwear preferences, why they chose particular footwear, together with their falls history.

Method: A two-wave, cross-sectional, statewide telephone survey of community dwelling older adults was undertaken.  This was a sub-analysis nested within a larger falls study. It used specific and open-ended questions about falls and footwear preferences. There were 245 participant responses to the survey.

Results: Participants reported footwear most commonly worn indoors was enclosed slippers (n=110, 45%), and outdoors was walking shoes (n=114, 47%). There was no association between slippers or any other indoor or outdoor footwear types chosen by participants and falls.   Comfort was the most common reason for indoor and outdoor footwear choice.  Safety, in relation to falls, was the second most reported reason for outdoor footwear choice but reported less frequently for indoor wear.

Significance of findings to allied health: For footwear recommendations by health professionals to be part of falls prevention strategy, a collaborative, consumer-centred discussion that includes comfort along with safety, is essential.


Annette is a Podiatrist of over 25 years and PhD candidate (submitted October 2018) at Monash University.  Her research is in footwear, falls and older adults.  She is also the Workforce Innovation Strategy Education and Research Manager at Monash Health in Melbourne.