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Ann Rehabil Med. 2013 Dec;37(6):848-61. doi: 10.5535/arm.2013.37.6.848. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

Disparity in the Fear of Falling Between Urban and Rural Residents in Relation With Socio-economic Variables, Health Issues, and Functional Independency.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hanyang University Medical Center, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



To investigate disparities in the fear of falling between urban and rural communities in relation to socio-demographics, health status, and functional level.


A total of 974 subjects aged 40 years or older participated in this study (335 urban residents and 639 rural). They completed a questionnaire about socio-demographics, health-related variables, and experience with falls. We employed both direct questioning and the Korean version of Falls Efficacy Scale-International (KFES-I) to investigate fear of falling in terms of perceptive fear and higher level of concern over falling during daily activities. The Korean version of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living was used to assess functional independency.


Aging, female gender, fall history, and the presence of chronic medical problems were independently associated with higher prevalence for the fear of falling. Both perceptive fear of falling and a higher level of concern over falling were more prevalent in the rural senior population compared with those in the urban population when they had the following characteristics: lower income or educational background, physical laborer or unemployed, no chronic medical morbidity, or functional independency in daily activities.


The disparity in the fear of falling between the two areas is thought to be related to age structure, and it may also exist in healthy or functionally independent senior populations under the influence of socio-environmental factors. A senior population with lower socio-economic status residing in a rural area might be related with a greater vulnerability to the fear of falling. We should consider regional characteristics when we design fall-related studies or develop fall-prevention programs at the community level.


Accidental falls; Activities of daily living; Geriatric assessment

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