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Fear of falling: Scoping review and topic analysis using natural language processing

Project: Fear of Falling, March 2022 ~

Kolpashnikova, K., Harris, L., & Desai, S. (2023). Fear of falling: Scoping review and topic analysis using natural language processing. PLoS ONE, 18(10): e0293554.


Fear of falling (FoF) is a major concern among older adults and is associated with negative outcomes, such as decreased quality of life and increased risk of falls. Despite several systematic reviews conducted on various specific domains of FoF and its related interventions, the research area has only been minimally covered by scoping reviews, and a comprehensive scoping review mapping the range and scope of the research area is still lacking. This review aims to provide such a comprehensive investigation of the existing literature and identify main topics, gaps in the literature, and potential opportunities for bridging different strains of research. Using the PRISMA-ScR guidelines, we searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycInfo, Scopus, and Web of Science databases. Following the screening process, 969 titles and abstracts were chosen for the review. Pre-processing steps included stop word removal, stemming, and term frequency-inverse document frequency vectorization. Using the Non-negative Matrix Factorization algorithm, we identified seven main topics and created a conceptual mapping of FoF research. The analysis also revealed that most studies focused on physical health-related factors, particularly balance and gait, with less attention paid to cognitive, psychological, social, and environmental factors. Moreover, more research could be done on demographic factors beyond gender and age with an interdisciplinary collaboration with social sciences. The review highlights the need for more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of FoF and calls for more research on less studied areas.