The prevalence and correlates of fear of falling in elderly persons living in the community

Am J Public Health. 1994 Apr;84(4):565-70. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.4.565.


Objectives: Fear of falling has been recognized as a potentially debilitating consequence of falling in elderly persons. However, the prevalence and the correlates of this fear are unknown.

Methods: Prevalence of fear of falling was calculated from the 1-year follow-up of an age- and gender-stratified random sample of community-dwelling elderly persons. Cross-sectional associations of fear of falling with quality of life, frailty, and falling were assessed.

Results: The prevalence of fear increased with age and was greater in women. After adjustment for age and gender, being moderately fearful of falling was associated with decreased satisfaction with life, increased frailty and depressed mood, and recent experience with falls. Being very fearful of falling was associated with all of the above plus decreased mobility and social activities.

Conclusions: Fear of falling is common in elderly persons and is associated with decreased quality of life, increased frailty, and recent experience with falls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postural Balance
  • Probability
  • Quality of Life
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sampling Studies