JOURNAL ARTICLE

Prevalence, risk factors and disability associated with fall-related injury in older adults in low- and middle-incomecountries: results from the WHO Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE)

Jennifer Stewart Williams, Paul Kowal, Heather Hestekin, Tristan O'Driscoll, Karl Peltzer, Alfred Yawson, Richard Biritwum, Tamara Maximova, Aarón Salinas Rodríguez, Betty Manrique Espinoza, Fan Wu, Perianayagam Arokiasamy, Somnath Chatterji
BMC Medicine 2015 June 23, 13: 147
26099794

BACKGROUND: In 2010 falls were responsible for approximately 80 % of disability stemming from unintentional injuries excluding traffic accidents in adults 50 years and over. Falls are becoming a major public health problem in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where populations are ageing rapidly.

METHODS: Nationally representative standardized data collected from adults aged 50 years and over participating in the World Health Organization (WHO) Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) Wave 1 in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, the Russian Federation and South Africa are analysed. The aims are to identify the prevalence of, and risk factors for, past-year fall-related injury and to assess associations between fall-related injury and disability. Regression methods are used to identify risk factors and association between fall-related injury and disability. Disability was measured using the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule Version 2.0 (WHODAS 2.0).

RESULTS: The prevalence of past-year fall-related injuries ranged from 6.6 % in India to 1.0 % in South Africa and was 4.0 % across the pooled countries. The proportion of all past-year injuries that were fall-related ranged from 73.3 % in the Russian Federation to 44.4 % in Ghana. Across the six countries this was 65.7 %. In the multivariable logistic regression, the odds of past-year fall-related injury were significantly higher for: women (OR: 1.27; 95 % CI: 0.99,1.62); respondents who lived in rural areas (OR: 1.36; 95 % CI: 1.06,1.75); those with depression (OR: 1.43; 95 % CI: 1.01,2.02); respondents who reported severe or extreme problems sleeping (OR: 1.54; 95 % CI: 1.15,2.08); and those who reported two or more (compared with no) chronic conditions (OR: 2.15; 95 % CI: 1.45,3.19). Poor cognition was also a significant risk factor for fall-related injury. The association between fall-related injury and the WHODAS measure of disability was highly significant (P<0.0001) with some attenuation after adjusting for confounders. Reporting two or more chronic conditions (compared with none) was significantly associated with disability (P<0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: The findings provide a platform for improving understanding of risk factors for falls in older adults in this group of LMICs. Clinicians and public health professionals in these countries must be made aware of the extent of this problem and the need to implement policies to reduce the risk of falls in older adults.

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