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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002 Jul;57(7):M473-8.

Falls in African American and white community-dwelling elderly residents.

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College of Pharmacy (Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.



Few studies have examined the relationship of race to falls. This study evaluated the association between potential risk factors and falls in a representative sample of 1049 African American and 1947 white participants of the second in-person wave of the Duke Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly.


Information about sociodemographic characteristics, health-related behaviors, health status, visual function, and drug use was determined during baseline in-home interviews. Three years later, falls in the previous 12 months were assessed by self-report.


One or more falls occurred in 22.2% of the participants. Nearly half the fallers reported more than one fall. Multivariable analysis revealed that African Americans were less likely than whites to have any fall (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.62-0.94). Increased age and education, arthritis, diabetes, and history of broken bones were also significant (p <.05) independent risk factors for any fall. In multivariable analyses comparing those with two or more falls to those with none, again, increased age and education, arthritis, and diabetes were significant (p <.05) independent risk factors while smoking was protective. Race was not a significant predictor of multiple falls (adjusted OR 0.90, 95% CI 0.64-1.26).


Similar sociodemographic characteristics and health problems appear to be important risk factors for any and multiple falls in community-dwelling African American and white elderly residents, with white elders at greater risk of one-time falls.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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