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Popul Health Manag. 2015 Dec;18(6):437-48. doi: 10.1089/pop.2014.0156. Epub 2015 Apr 28.

Examining Contextual Influences on Fall-Related Injuries Among Older Adults for Population Health Management.

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1 Department of Health Policy and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles , Los Angeles, California.
2 Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley , Berkeley, California.


The objectives were to assess the associations between fall-related injuries (FRIs) treated in the emergency department (ED) among older adults in California and contextual county-level physical, social, and economic characteristics, and to assess how county-level economic conditions are associated with FRIs when controlling for other county-level factors. Data from 2008 California ED discharge, Medicare Impact File, and County Health Rankings were used. Random effects logistic regression models estimated contextual associations between county-level factors representing economic conditions, the built environment, community safety, access to care, and obesity with patient-level FRI treatment among 1,712,409 older adults, controlling for patient-level and hospital-level characteristics. Patient-level predictors of FRI treatment were consistent with previous studies not accounting for contextual associations. Larger and rural hospitals had higher odds of FRI treatment, while teaching and safety net hospitals had lower odds. Better county economic conditions were associated with greater odds (ß=0.73, P=0.001) and higher county-level obesity were associated with lower odds (ß=-0.37, P=0.004), but safer built environments (ß=-0.31, P=0.38) were not associated with FRI treatment. The magnitude of association between county-level economic conditions and FRI treatment attenuated with the inclusion of county-level obesity rates. FRI treatment was most strongly and consistently related to more favorable county economic conditions, suggesting differences in treatment or preferences for treatment for FRIs among older individuals in communities of varying resource levels. Using population health data on FRIs, policy makers may be able to remove barriers unique to local contexts when implementing falls prevention educational programs and built environment modifications.

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