Determinants, circumstances and consequences of injurious falls among older women living in the community

Inj Prev. 2021 Feb;27(1):34-41. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2019-043499. Epub 2020 Jan 15.

Abstract

Objective: To identify the risk factors of women who fell with injury relative to women who did not fall or fell without injury and to describe the circumstances and consequences of injurious and non-injurious falls.

Methods: We analysed 5074 older women from the Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health Study who prospectively tracked their falls using a 13-month calendar. Women with a reported fall were phone interviewed about fall-related details, including injuries. Risk factors were identified from surveys and clinical home visits. Logistic regression models were used to calculate adjusted ORs and 95% CIs for injurious falls relative to not falling or falling without injury. Circumstances of injurious and non-injurious falls were compared.

Results: At least one fall was experienced by 1481 (29%) participants. Of these, 1043 were phone interviewed, of whom 430 (41%) reported at least one injurious fall. Relative to not falling, the risk factor most strongly associated with experiencing an injurious fall was having fallen ≥2 times (OR 4.0, CI 2.7 to 5.8) in the past year. Being black was protective for fall-related injury (OR 0.6, CI 0.4 to 0.9). No strong associations in risk factors were observed for injurious relative to non-injurious falls. Injurious falls were more likely to occur away from and outside of the home (p<0.05). Over half of those who injured self-managed their injury.

Conclusion: Falling repeatedly is a powerful risk factor for injurious falls. Those who have fallen more than once should be prioritised for interventions to mitigate the risk of an injurious fall.

Keywords: epidemiology; fall; older people; planning.