Mechanical Falls: Are Patients Willing to Discuss Their Risk With a Health Care Provider?

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Background: Falls in the elderly cause serious injury. Objective: We aimed to determine subjects’ comfort in discussing fall risk and home safety evaluations. Methods: This prospective study surveyed a convenience sample of subjects ($50 years old) in an emergency department (ED), health fair (HF), and family practice (FP). The survey included the Falls Efficacy Scale and Vulnerable Elders Survey—validated surveys measuring fall concern and functional decline. Other data—environmental living conditions, participant behaviors, fall frequency—were collected. The associations between perceived fall risk and participant characteristics were assessed using descriptive statistics and random-effects logistic regression. Results: Participants (n = 416, 38% males, 62% females) had a mean age of 67.6 years; 35% were high fall risk. Previous year falls (p = 0.002), use of assistive device (p < 0.001), having at least one alcoholic drink/week (p = 0.043), and poor or fair perceived health status (p < 0.001) were associated with perceived fall risk. HF respondents were more willing than FP respondents to discuss falls (84.9% vs. 73.1%, p = 0.025). The difference was not significant between the HF and ED respondents (84.9% vs. 76.9, p = 0.11). HF subjects were more willing than FP to have a home safety inspection (68.9% vs. 45.9%, p < 0.001). The difference was not significant between the HF and ED respondents (68.9% vs 58.5, p = 0.09). Conclusions: Perceived and actual fall risks are highly associated. Most participants are willing to discuss their fall risk and a home safety evaluation. HF subjects were most willing to have these discussions; ED subjects were less willing than HF, but not significantly different from health fair participants. FP participants were significantly less willing to have these discussions than HF participants. This may suggest a meaningful opportunity for fall risk prevention in outpatient settings such as health fairs and the ED.





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Emergency Medicine | Medical Specialties | Medicine and Health Sciences | Surgery | Trauma



Peer Reviewed for front end display



Department of Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine Faculty, Department of Family Medicine, Department of Surgery, Department of Surgery Faculty

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