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Physiother Res Int. 2000;5(1):33-45.

Functional status among elderly Norwegian fallers living at home.

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  • 1University Section, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Ullevaal Hospital, Oslo, Norway.



Falls and their after-effects are important contributors to disability in old age, but may be mitigated. The relationship between self-reported health and functioning and falling is examined in the present study.


The study design was cross-sectional. Data were collected from interviews with 431 community-dwelling Norwegian subjects aged 67-97 years. Physical health was assessed through items from the Multidimensional Functional Assessment of Older Adults (MFAQ), supplemented with the Body Mass Index (BMI). General health/psychosocial health was assessed with the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-20), the Mini-mental State Examination, two general health items and items concerning mental and social health from the MFAQ. Falls during the last six months were registered and scored 0 (no falls), 1 (one fall) or 2 (two or more falls).


During the previous six months 24.1% of subjects reported falling. Four variables: 'Perceived difficulty in keeping balance in walking', 'Troubled by heart pounding/shortness of breath', sum score on the GHQ factor 'Depression/hopelessness', and a higher value on BMI, were independently associated with number of falls reported.


Score value on 'Perceived difficulty in keeping balance in walking' was the strongest significant predictor of falls in the present study. In contrast with other studies, no association between anxiety, general health and falling was observed.

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