Unintentional falls mortality among elderly in the United States: time for action

Injury. 2012 Dec;43(12):2065-71. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2011.12.001. Epub 2012 Jan 20.


Fall injury is a leading cause of death and disability among older adults. The objective of this study is to identify the groups among the ≥ 65 population by age, gender, race, ethnicity and state of residence which are most vulnerable to unintentional fall mortality and report the trends in falls mortality in the United States. Using mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the age specific and age-adjusted fall mortality rates were calculated by gender, age, race, ethnicity and state of residence for a five year period (2003-2007). Annual percentage changes in rates were calculated and linear regression using natural logged rates were used for time-trend analysis. There were 79,386 fall fatalities (rate: 40.77 per 100,000 population) reported. The annual mortality rate varied from a low of 36.76 in 2003 to a high of 44.89 in 2007 with a 22.14% increase (p=0.002 for time-related trend) during 2003-2007. The rates among whites were higher compared to blacks (43.04 vs. 18.83; p=0.01). While comparing falls mortality rate for race by gender, white males had the highest mortality rate followed by white females. The rate was as low as 20.19 for Alabama and as high as 97.63 for New Mexico. The relative attribution of falls mortality among all unintentional injury mortality increased with age (23.19% for 65-69 years and 53.53% for 85+ years), and the proportion of falls mortality was significantly higher among females than males (46.9% vs. 40.7%: p<0.001) and among whites than blacks (45.3% vs. 24.7%: p<0.001). The burden of fall related mortality is very high and the rate is on the rise; however, the burden and trend varied by gender, age, race and ethnicity and also by state of residence. Strategies will be more effective in reducing fall-related mortality when high risk population groups are targeted.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality*
  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vulnerable Populations