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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111

Abstract

PARRAGA MARTINEZ, Ignacio et al. Fear of falling in elderly community-dwelling individuals. Gac Sanit [online]. 2010, vol.24, n.6, pp. 453-459. ISSN 0213-9111.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0213-91112010000600004.

Objective: To determine the association between fear of falling and health status, a history of previous falls and personal characteristics in a representative sample of elderly people. Method: We conducted an observational, cross-sectional prevalence study in the community setting in Albacete (Spain) of 921 people older than 65 years old selected through simple randomization. Participants underwent semi-structured interviews about their history of falls, fear of falling, illnesses and sociodemographic characteristics. Multivariate analysis was used to evaluate the association between fear of falling and its possible conditioning factors. Results: In the previous year, 26.3% of interviewees had fallen and 49.4% expressed a strong fear of falling. A high proportion (78.9%) considered the consequences of falls to be very serious, but only 44.7% believed that most of these falls could be prevented. The variables associated with a greater fear of falling were female sex (OR=5.5; 95% CI: 3.9-7.6), age more than 75 years old (OR=2.0; 95% CI: 1.5-2.8), illiteracy or lack of education beyond reading/writing skills (OR= 1.5; 95% CI: 1.1-2.1), taking psychotropic medication (OR=1.6; 95% CI: 1.1-2.2), and having cardiocirculatory disease (OR=1.5; 95% CI: 1.1-2.2), disorders of the locomotor system (OR=2.2; 95% CI: 1.5-3.1) and a history of falls (OR=1.9; 95% CI: 1.3-2.7). Conclusions: Approximately half of the interviewees expressed strong concern about falls. The factors associated with a fear of falling were a history of falls and certain clinical and sociodemographic characteristics. Most of the interviewees considered that falls had serious consequences but less than half believed that a large proportion of falls could be avoided.

Keywords : Accidental falls; Fear; Elderly people; Primary health care.

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