Background Falls represent a significant public health issue, with previous studies focusing on older adults. With an ageing population and corresponding escalation of health expenditure, the need to target the current and future health of middle-aged population is evident. However, little is known about the characteristics of fall risk factors in middle-aged populations. This study examine age and gender differences in fall risk factors among middle-aged adults who presented to an emergency department (ED) due to a fall.
Methods A sample of patients aged 40–64 years who presented to one of the three chosen public hospital EDs due to an unintentional fall were approached for a survey between July 2013 and Mar 2014. Patients were eligible when a fall event was indicated in the Presenting Complaint Code or Presenting Problem text field in the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) database. Information obtained from the survey included demographic data and other health information which was collected as potentially important predictors of falls. Potential fall predictors include a history of falls, having co-morbid conditions and medications, feeling of losing balance, hazardous drinking patterns, poor physical functioning, insufficient exercises, and being underweight or obese.
Results There were 305 participants presenting to one of the three EDs in South-East Queensland during the period. The majority were females (59.3%) and the mean age of the sample was 54 years (standard deviation 7.2). Age and gender were associated with different fall risk factors among the middle-aged adults. In the multivariable analysis, increasing age was associated with poor physical functioning (odds ratio (OR) 1.05, 95% CI: 1.003–1.09). Women were two times more likely than men to report a fall in the past year (OR 2.10, 95% CI: 1.24–3.58) and occasionally/often report feeling of losing balance (OR 2.12, 95% CI: 1.17–3.84). Conversely, women were 65% less likely than men to consume three alcoholic drinks or more per day (OR 0.35, 95% CI: 0.20–0.61). Increasing age was significantly associated with increasing number of fall risk factors in the univariate analysis. However, no association was found between age and number of risk factors in the multivariable analysis.
Conclusions This is the first study to explore fall risk factors among middle-aged adults presenting to ED using self-reported data. Our findings present valuable information that is critical for informing evidence-based strategies for falls prevention policy and initiatives which aim to reduce the burden of disease in this population in later life.
- Middle-aged adults
- Emergency department
- Risk factor
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