Nutritional status and associations with falls, balance, mobility and functionality during hospital admission

J Nutr Health Aging. 2011 May;15(5):388-91. doi: 10.1007/s12603-010-0302-8.


Objectives: To explore associations between nutritional status, falls and selected falls risk factors amongst older hospitalized people. Lengths of stay amongst fallers and the malnourished were assessed.

Design: An observational longitudinal cohort study.

Setting: Geriatric Assessment and Rehabilitation Unit (GARU) of a tertiary teaching hospital.

Participants: Admissions to the GARU during a six-month period were included.

Measurements: Associations between nutritional status and falls during hospitalization, reported preadmission history of falls, functional status, balance and mobility during GARU admission were analysed. Associations between nutritional status or experiencing a hospital fall and length of stay were also examined.

Results: Malnutrition prevalence was 39% (75/194, 95% CI 32-46%) with odds of falling during admission being 1.49 (95%CI: 0.81, 2.75), p< 0.20). Patients assessed as malnourished were older (p<0.001) and more likely to have a poorer score on both the admission (p<0.05) and discharge (p<0.009) timed "Up and Go" test. Malnutrition was associated with reduced mobility (p<0.05). Those who fell during admission had statistically greater lengths of stay compared with non-fallers [median (range): 57.0 (7-127) vs 35.0 (5-227) days; p<0.002].

Conclusion: Evidence of reduced mobility was evident during GARU admission amongst older people assessed as malnourished. Considering the results, a larger study concerning nutritional status, functionality and falls in the hospitalized population is warranted. The influence of nutritional status upon a person's physical functioning should be considered more broadly in falls research.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / complications
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Movement
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Observation
  • Postural Balance*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors