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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

SUELVES, Josep M.; MARTINEZ, Vicenç  and  MEDINA, Antonia. Injuries from falls and associated factors among elderly people in Cataluña, Spain. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2010, vol.27, n.1, pp. 37-42. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892010000100006.

OBJECTIVES: To assess, based on a population health survey, what proportion of individuals in a sample of non-institutionalized older persons suffered injuries from unintentional falls, and to evaluate the associated demographic and health-related factors. METHODS: A total of 3 247 individuals over 65 years of age, selected by multistage random sampling, participated in the Health Survey of Cataluña (ESCA-2006), answering an interviewer-administered questionnaire that included questions about injuries from falls, and any relevant associated factors, during the 12 months preceding the survey. RESULTS: Of the respondents, 14.9% reported having been injured by falling. Multivariate analysis indicated that sex, age, living alone, taking five or more medications, and suffering from mobility problems, diabetes, or musculoskeletal disorders were associated with an increased risk of injury from falls. However, no statistically significant effect was observed from sensory or communication impairment, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, or alcohol consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Health care services, which are often in contact with the elderly, can identify those who are at increased risk of falling and put into place a variety of proven, preventive interventions. Though somewhat limited, population health surveys provide useful information regarding the burden of fall-related injuries on elderly health and complement data provided by other sources.

Keywords : Accidental falls; motor activity; alcohol drinking; aged; disabled persons; aging; Spain.

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