Revista Española de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1135-5727
SILVA GAMA, Zenewton André da; GOMEZ CONESA, Antonia and SOBRAL FERREIRA, Marta. Epidemiology of falls in the elderly in Spain: a systematic review, 2007. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2008, vol.82, n.1, pp. 43-55. ISSN 1135-5727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1135-57272008000100004.
Falls in the elderly are a serious problem that results in large health care expenditures. To prevent them, it has been shown that the key is an epidemiologic knowledge of the target population. The purpose of this systematic review was to identify the incidence, risk factors and consequences of falls in the Spanish population, by analyzing the methodological quality of studies that provide these data. Two independent authors identified 54 studies through manual and electronic means (MEDLINE, Dialnet, Tesis en Red, TESEO y CSIC [ICYT, IME, ISOC]). A total of 13 studies performed in Spain with non-hospitalized elderly individuals older than 64 years of age were selected and assessed for their methodological quality. We found heterogeneity in the characteristics and quality of the studies, and a general inadequacy of data analyses. The risk factors and consequences must be viewed with caution, since in most of the studies a causal inference cannot be made. We showed that the current fall rates are at the same level as those of the first epidemiologic study published 15 years ago. We conclude that Spain has a high incidence of falls and needs studies on risk factors directed toward cause and effect in the community and comparisons among nursing homes. Finally, the physical, psychosocial and economic consequences must be investigated more thoroughly.
Keywords : Epidemiology; Accidental falls; Aging; Review, systematic; Observational study.