Fall incidence in a population of elderly persons in Nigeria

Gerontology. 2010;56(3):278-83. doi: 10.1159/000236327. Epub 2009 Sep 5.


Background: Falls are a common public health problem amongst the elderly in many communities. There is a need for information on the causes as well as the impact of this preventable risk on health among the elderly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Objective: To examine the prevalence and factors associated with falls among a population of elderly persons in Nigeria.

Methods: A multi-stage stratified sampling of households was implemented to select persons aged 65 years and older in the south-western and north-central parts of Nigeria (n = 2,096). Respondents were asked about the occurrence, number, and consequences of falls in the previous 12 months. They were also assessed for the presence of vision impairment, chronic pain and medical conditions.

Results: Falls were reported by 23% (n = 482) of the sample. Females (24.0%) were more likely than males (17.9%) to report falls. Respondents with chronic pain conditions, especially those with arthritis, and those with insomnia were at increased risk for falls. Among fallers, females were more likely than males to sustain injuries, including fractures (45.0 vs. 30.1%; p = 0.001). Persons with near vision impairment were less prone to serious falls with injuries than those with no visual impairment (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Falls are an important health problem among elderly Nigerians. A fall prevention program must have a particular focus on females, those with chronic pain conditions and those experiencing insomnia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Nigeria
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / pathology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology