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Patient Educ Couns. 1999 Jan;36(1):23-31.

Impact of gait problems and falls on functioning in independent living persons of 55 years and over: a community survey.

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Department of General Practice, Maastricht University, Netherlands.


In a cross-sectional, population-based study among community-dwelling persons of 55 years and over the incidence of falls, risk indicators for falls, specifically age, and the impact of gait problems, falls and other risk factors on functioning was determined. A randomly age-stratified sample (n = 655) was taken from all independent living persons of 55 years and over (n = 2269) and registered in a primary health care centre. They received a mail questionnaire concerning demographic data, history of falls and injuries due to falls, physical and mental health status, gait problems, functional status, including social activities. The response rate was 62% (n = 405). Of the subjects aged 55 years and of those aged 65 years and over, 25% and 31% respectively fell at least once in the previous year. Half of the people reporting falls fell more than once. Serious injury occurred in 9% of the fallers, with 4% fractures. There is a significant association between falling and age and, even more clearly, between gait problems and age. The main risk factors of single and recurrent falls were female gender, physical health status and gait problems. Logistic regression analysis reveals that the main determinants of falling in general are gait problems and female gender and, of recurrent falling female gender, physical complaints and gait problems. Falls have some negative effect on functioning, i.e. mobility range and social activities, but this is overshadowed by mental status indicators and gait problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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