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The New Zealand Medical Journal

 Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 11-June-2010, Vol 123 No 1316

[full text] [PDF]

Unintentional falls at home among young and middle-aged New Zealanders resulting in hospital admission or death: context and characteristics
Bridget Kool, Shanthi Ameratunga, Wayne Hazell, Alex Ng

Abstract


Aim
This study investigates the characteristics and contexts of unintentional falls at home among young and middle-aged adults.

Method
We conducted a population-based study of individuals aged 25–59 years resident in Auckland who were admitted to hospital or died following a non-occupational fall at home (July 2005–June 2006). Information was obtained from participant or proxy interviews, and reviews of inpatient records.

Results
344 patients (including 1 death) met the study eligibility criteria representing an overall age-specific incidence rate of 54.0/100,000 (95% CI 48.6–60.1) for the 12-month period. Of the 335 cases (97.4%) interviewed, 36% fell on stairs/steps, 31% fell on the same level, 13% of falls involved ladders/scaffolding, and 11% fell from buildings/structures. Stairs or steps were involved in 43% of falls among females and 28% of falls among males. The majority of falls (81%) occurred in the individual’s own home. A quarter (24%) of participants had consumed ≥2 drinks in the 6 hours preceding the fall, and 24% were on ≥2 prescription medications.

Conclusion
While this study was not designed to identify the specific causes of falls, the findings reveal several important contextual factors that can be targeted to prevent fatal and serious non-fatal falls at home among this age group.

     
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