Mortality, disability, and falls in older persons: the role of underlying disease and disability

Am J Public Health. 1992 Mar;82(3):395-400. doi: 10.2105/ajph.82.3.395.


Background: Falls are prevalent in older persons and can have serious consequences.

Methods: Data from the Longitudinal Study on Aging were analyzed to study the relationship between falls and both mortality and functional status in 4270 respondents age 70 and over. The effects of demographic traits, chronic conditions, and disability present at baseline were controlled for by means of multivariable analyses.

Results: Risk of death within 2 years was greater for both single fallers (crude odds ratio [OR], 1.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-2.0) and multiple fallers (crude OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.7-2.8). This excess risk was dissipated when selected covariates were added to the model. No crude or adjusted association was evident between single falls and functional impairment; however, multiple falls were an independent risk factor (adjusted OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.2-2.0).

Conclusions: Multiple falls in older persons increase risk of functional impairment and may indicate underlying conditions that increase risk of death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology