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Frequency of falls, fear of falling and subsequent activity restriction: influence of the fact of filling in a questionnaire alone or with the help of a third person
  1. E Mendes da Costa,
  2. A Ingenbleek*,
  3. M Bantuelle,
  4. M C Van Bastelaer,
  5. A Leveque
  1. Correspondence Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Universite Libre de Bruxelles (U.L.B.), Belgium 808, route de Lennik, CP 596, B-1070 Bruxelles, Belgium


Introduction Falls frequently affect older persons and can cause fear of falling and subsequent activity restriction. Among older people, the help of another person is sometimes necessary to complete questionnaires. The effect of this assistance on the collected information can raise questions. We study the effect of completing a questionnaire with or without the help of someone on the frequency of falls, fear of falling and subsequent activity restriction.

Method Cross-sectional survey; self-administered questionnaire; Fontaine l'Eveque (Belgium); 2006; persons aged 65 years and over non-institutionalised; 2812 questionnaires sent.

Results Of the 501 received and eligible questionnaires, 82 were completed with the help of someone. In bivariate analysis, having fallen within the past year, being afraid of falling and having restricted activities were more often reported by people who did not answer alone. Among persons aged 65–74 and 75–84 years old, the association between completing the questionnaire with help and having fallen was not significant when considering simultaneously the fact of living alone and the sex. When taking into account simultaneously the age, the sex, living alone and having fallen, having completed the questionnaire with help was not significantly associated with fear of falling but it was with activity restriction.

Conclusion The fact that someone has helped to complete a questionnaire is important to know and can influence the frequency of certain outcomes. Some distribution differences do not persist in our survey when considering other variables, variables which are thus important to take into account.

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