Publication/Presentation Date



Modified CAGE as a Screening Tool for Mechanical Fall Risk Assessment: A Pilot Survey

Marna Rayl Greenberg DO, MPH, Michael C Nguyen MD, Bernadette G Porter BA,Robert DBarraco, MD MPH, Brian Stello MD, Arnold Goldberg MD, Clare M Lenhart, PhD MPH,Anita Kurt PhD, RN, Bryan G Kane, MD

Background: Falls in the elderly cause serious injury. The literature does not hold answers to patient perceptions about their personal fall risk, their comfort level in discussing their fall history, or a home safety plan with their healthcare provider. Existing risk-assessing tools may be prohibitive in the Emergency Department due to their length and complexity.

Objective: We piloted a modified CAGE screen (Fig1) to identify adults at risk for falls.

Methods: At a community health event, a convenience sample ofparticipants (50 years or older) was surveyed. The survey included demographics, the Falls Efficacy Scale (FES), the modified CAGEand questions about fall risk.The FES is a validated, but longer, survey metric for comparison. A modified CAGE score greater than or equal to 1 was considered positive. Analysis included descriptive statistics and modified CAGE groups were compared by gender, fall risk and history with chi-square.

Results: One hundred sevensubjects (66.4%female, 32.7% male) with a mean age of 66 (SD7.9)participated; 98 (91.6%)were Caucasian. Twenty (18.7%) lived alone,43 (40.2%) had a cat or dog, and 91 (85%) had stairs at home. Six (5.6%) reported using assistive devices, 2 (1.9%) at-risk alcohol use; 9 (8.4%)taking blood thinners, 50 (46.7%) taking blood pressure medications, and 22 (20.6%) one or more medications that could make them drowsy. Thirty-threesubjects(30.8%) reported having fallen in the past year; only13 (39.4% of those fallen)sought treatment. Collectively, these variables resulted in a mean risk of falling score of 2.49 (SD=1.36) out of 9.

Eleven (31.4%)femalesand27 (38.0%)malesrecorded ≥1 positive responses on the modified CAGE.A modified CAGE positive responsewas significantly greater among those with past-year falls (51.5%) than those without (29.7%), p=0.031.A positive modified CAGE screen was also associated with a higher mean FES score (10.82 v7.83, p

More females than males reported past year falls (36.6% vs. 17.1%, p=0.04) yet no difference in fall risk was noted between genders (4.44 vs. 4.26, p=0.506). The proportion of modified CAGE positive participants did not vary between females and males (38% vs. 31%, p=0.505).

Of those whoscreened positive on the modified CAGE, 36 (92.3%) reported comfort in speaking to their healthcare provider about their fall risk and 26 (66.7%) in having a home safety evaluation.

Conclusions: In this pilot, a positive modified CAGE is associated with both higher FES scores and a willingness to discuss fall risk with a health care provider. The modifiedCAGE may be a usefulbrief screening tool to detect fall risk in adults. Further studies to determine the extent of its utility in an Emergency Department should be considered.


Emergency Medicine | Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Primary Care


Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty, Department of Family Medicine Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Patient Care Services / Nursing

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