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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 May;46(5):551-5.

Identifying nursing home residents at risk for falling.

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  • 1Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged Research and Training Institute, Boston, MA 02131, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To develop a fall risk model that can be used to identify prospectively nursing home residents at risk for falling. The secondary objective was to determine whether the nursing home environment independently influenced the development of falls.

DESIGN:

A prospective study involving 1 year of follow-up.

SETTING:

Two hundred seventy-two nursing homes in the state of Washington.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 18,855 residents who had a baseline assessment in 1991 and a follow-up assessment within the subsequent year.

MEASUREMENTS:

Baseline Minimum Data Set items that could be potential risk factors for falling were considered as independent variables. The dependent variable was whether the resident fell as reported at the follow-up assessment. We estimated the extrinsic risk attributable to particular nursing home environments by calculating the annual fall rate in each nursing home and grouping them into tertiles of fall risk according to these rates.

RESULTS:

Factors associated independently with falling were fall history, wandering behavior, use of a cane or walker, deterioration of activities of daily living performance, age greater than 87 years, unsteady gait, transfer independence, wheelchair independence, and male gender. Nursing home residents with a fall history were more than three times as likely to fall during the follow-up period than residents without a fall history. Residents in homes with the highest tertile of fall rates were more than twice as likely to fall compared with residents of homes in the lowest tertile, independent of resident-specific risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS:

Fall history was identified as the strongest risk factor associated with subsequent falls and accounted for the vast majority of the predictive strength of the model. We recommend that fall history be used as an initial screener for determining eligibility for fall intervention efforts. Studies are needed to determine the facility characteristics that contribute to fall risk, independent of resident-specific risk factors.

PMID:
9588366
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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