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Begin risk assessment for falls in women at 45, not 65
  1. Katherine J Harmon1,
  2. Anne M Hakenewerth2,
  3. Anna E Waller3,
  4. Amy Ising3,
  5. Judith E Tintinalli4
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Communicable Disease Branch, North Carolina Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Carolina Center for Health Informatics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 Department of Emergency Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Katherine J Harmon, Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, USA; kjharmon{at}email.unc.edu

Abstract

The clinical and epidemiological literature provides guidelines for fall prevention starting at age 65; however, the focus on age ≥65 is not evidence based. Therefore, this study examined state-wide North Carolina emergency department visit data to examine the characteristics of falls across the age spectrum, identify the age at which the incidence of fall-related emergency department visits started to increase and determine whether these trends were similar for men and women. We determined that incidence rates of fall-related emergency department visits began to increase in early middle age, particularly for women. Since fall risk assessment and prevention activities should be initiated prior to an injurious fall, we recommend beginning these activities before age 65.

  • fall
  • older people
  • surveillance
  • descriptive epidemiology
  • public health

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Footnotes

  • Contributors AH, AEW, AI and JET conceived the work. KJH performed the statistical analyses and drafted the first version of the manuscript. AH, AEW, AI and JET assisted with the literature review, contributed to the interpretation of the results and assisted with manuscript revisions. All authors approved the submitted version of the manuscript.

  • Funding NC DETECT is a state-wide public health syndromic surveillance system, funded by the NC Division of Public Health (NC DPH) Federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant and managed through collaboration between NC DPH and UNC-CH Department of Emergency Medicine’s Carolina Center for Health Informatics.

  • Disclaimer The NC DETECT Data Oversight Committee does not take responsibility for the scientific validity or accuracy of methodology, results, statistical analyses or conclusions presented.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This study was also reviewed and approved by the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data used in this study are owned by the North Carolina Division of Public Health and are not available for sharing.

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