Online Program

Socioeconomic predictors of falls among older adults: A population-based, longitudinal study

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 4:54 p.m. - 5:06 p.m.

Emily Nicklett, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, University of Michigan, ann arbor, MI
Robert Taylor, PhD, School of Social Work, University of Michigan School of Social Work, Ann Arbor, MI
Deleise Wilson, PhD, RN, Division of Nursing Business & Health Systems, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Falls cause injury and disability among older adults, particularly among the frail elderly. Previous research has found that older adults with fewer socioeconomic resources are at higher risk of falling. However, few studies have examined socioeconomic correlates longitudinally.

Our study examines whether socioeconomic characteristics (income, assets, and education) predict the likelihood of falling among population-based sample of older adults in a longitudinal tracking study.

We examined whether or not socioeconomic characteristics predict risk of 2-year falls at baseline (1998-2000) and longitudinally (1998-2010) using Health and Retirement Study data from over 12,000 men and women aged 65 and older. Multivariate analyses adjusted for race/ethnicity, age, sex, marital status, disability, comorbidities, self-rated health, and self-rated vision.

In descriptive statistics, those who had fallen at baseline had significantly lower (p<.05) household income (37,212 versus 41,763) and assets (301,356 versus 336,183), and had less education than those who had not fallen. These differences widen in longitudinal descriptive analyses. In the multivariate baseline analysis, education, assets, and income did not predict falls. In the multivariate longitudinal analysis, college graduates were 14.6% more likely to fall in a given 2-year period compared to those who had not completed high school.

In conclusion, SES is not significant when sociodemographic and health characteristics are considered, with the exception of college completion, which was a risk factor. Our study found that low socioeconomic status was correlated with other risk factors for falls at baseline and longitudinally, and that low SES does not lead to more falls.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related nursing
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify which socioeconomic characteristics are associated with baseline and longitudinal probabilities of falling. Evaluate the importance of examining falls data longitudinally. Discuss why socioeconomic status is linked to the probability of falling.

Keyword(s): Aging, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-investigator of multiple federally funded grants focusing on social predictors of health outcomes among older adults.
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.