242651 Unintentional Falls and Fall injuries among Massachusetts Adults with Disabilities

Monday, October 31, 2011: 2:30 PM

Monika Mitra, PhD , Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shrewsbury, MA
Holly Hackman, MD, MPH , Injury Prevention and Control Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Unintentional falls are a major cause of injury-related morbidity and mortality among older adults. However, there are no studies examining the prevalence of falls and fall injuries among a representative sample of persons with disabilities. The purpose of this study is to contrast the prevalence of unintentional falls and fall-related injuries among community-dwelling adults with and without disabilities, in Massachusetts. We used data from the 2006-2009 Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Respondents were classified into three disability groups: (1) any disability, (2) disability and needing help with personal/routine care, and (3) disability with mobility difficulties. To assess falls and fall injuries, respondents were asked how many times they had fallen in the past three months and how many of these falls caused an injury. Almost 26% (95%CI, 24.1-27.3) of adults 45 years and older with disabilities reported an unintentional fall in the past three months compared to 11.9% (95%CI,11.1-12.7) of adults without disabilities. Similarly 9.3% (95%CI,8.3-10.4) of persons with disabilities reported a fall injury compared to 3.2% (95%CI,2.8-3.6) of adults without disabilities. Multivariate analyses indicate that adults with any disability, those needing help, and those with mobility difficulties were more likely to report recent falls and fall injuries than those without disabilities while controlling for demographics and self-reported health status. Persons with disabilities, particularly those with increasing levels of mobility difficulties are disproportionately represented among those sustaining unintentional falls and fall injuries. Population-based fall prevention activities need to be inclusive and attentive to the needs of this high-risk group.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be informed about the prevalence and frequency of falls and fall-related injuries among adults with disabilities. They will develop an understanding of the connection between falls, fall-related injuries and disability status. Finally, participants will recognize the importance of disability indicators in public health surveys and surveillance systems.

Keywords: Disability, Injury Risk

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research scientist investigating health disparities between persons with and without disabilities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.