Purpose: To identify the most common beliefs concerning the negative consequences of falling and determine whether these motivate avoidance of activity.
Design and methods: A questionnaire assessing feared consequences of falling was completed by 224 community-living people aged older than 75. Beliefs about the consequences of falling were related to demographic characteristics, falling history, and avoidance of activity. The questionnaires were completed again by 166 participants 6 months later.
Results: Commonly feared consequences of falling were loss of functional independence and damage to identity. These fears were correlated with avoidance of activity (after adjusting for age, sex, and recent falling history) and predicted avoidance in activity 6 months later (after adjusting for baseline levels of avoidance).
Implications: Concerns about damage to social identity, as well as functional incapacity, are common and may motivate avoidance of activity.