Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Hip Protectors—Potential Benefits, Harms, and Barriers to Adherence

Potential Benefits


  • Potential reduction of sustaining a hip fracture if worn appropriately and worn at the time of a fall*
  • Potential avoidance of serious consequences of hip fractures, including pain, loss of mobility, and death (Papaioannou et al., 2015)
  • Potential reduction in fear related to fracture*

Potential Harms


  • Slight increase in the risk of pelvic fractures (Santesso et al., 2014)
  • Skin irritation (Combes & Price, 2014; Santesso et al., 2014)

Barriers to Adherence

  • Staff attitudes (negative perceptions about hip protectors or lack of education) (Combes & Price, 2014; Korall et al., 2015)
  • Product design issues, such as: discomfort, takes time/assistance to put on (Combes & Price, 2014; Korall et al., 2015; Santesso et al., 2014), bulky (affects mobility)*, resizing may be required with weight loss/gain*
  • Systemic barriers (e.g., lack of facility commitment, staff shortages) (Korall et al., 2015)
  • Urinary incontinence and physical difficulties/illness (Santesso et al., 2014)
  • Cost/affordability*
  • Concerns about dignity and appearance (e.g., may be noticed through clothes/make a person look overweight)*
  • Agitation in people with cognitive impairment*

* Provided by the expert panel.

Older Adults
Preventing Falls and Reducing Injury from Falls
Point of Care Resources