Societal consequences of falls in the older population: injuries, healthcare costs, and long-term reduced quality of life

J Trauma. 2011 Sep;71(3):748-53. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181f6f5e5.


Background: Fall incidents are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older adults. The aim of this cohort study was to determine the incidence, costs, and quality of life for fall-related injuries in the older Dutch population presenting at the emergency department.

Methods: Data on fall-related injuries in persons aged 65 years or older were retrieved from the Dutch Injury Surveillance System, which records injuries treated at the emergency department, and a patient follow-up survey conducted between 2003 and 2007. Injury incidence, discharge rates, healthcare costs, and quality of life measures were calculated.

Results: Fall-related injuries were to the upper or lower limb in 70% of cases and consisted mainly of fractures (60%), superficial injuries (21%), and open wounds (8%). Falls led to a total healthcare cost of €474.4 million, which represents 21% of total healthcare expenses due to injuries. Both admitted and nonadmitted patients reported a reduced quality of life up to 9 months after the injury.

Conclusions: Fall-related injuries in older adults are age and gender related, leading to high healthcare consumption, costs, and long-term reduced quality of life. Further implementation of falls prevention strategies is needed to control the burden of fall-related injuries in the aging population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / economics
  • Accidental Falls* / mortality
  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Netherlands
  • Quality of Life*
  • Wounds and Injuries / economics
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy