Incidence, persistence and risk factors of fear of falling in older adults: cohort study (2008–2013) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE To evaluate the incidence and persistence of fear of falling in older adults and the clinical/functional, psychosocial and lifestyle-related risk factors. METHODS A longitudinal study with 393 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 years and over (110 men/ 283 women) resident in the North Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fear of falling was assessed by the Falls Efficacy Scale-I-BR. The explanatory variables assessed were: number of comorbidities and medicines, history of falls, fracture from falling, use of walking aids, functional dependence in basic and instrumental activities of daily living, hearing and visual impairment, hand grip strength, walking speed, self-rated health, body mass index, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, living alone and activity level. Incidence, persistence and risk factors were estimated. Multivariate analysis was performed using Poisson Regression, obtaining relative risks (RR) and corresponding to 95% confidence intervals. RESULTS Among the 393 participants, fear of falling occurred in 33.5% and was persistent in 71.3%. Incidence was found to associate with using seven or more medicines and reporting worse activity level than the prior year. Risk factors for persistent fear were: using seven or more medicines, a history of one or two falls, reduced walking speed, hearing impairment, cognitive impairment, depressive symptoms and poor or very poor self-rated health. CONCLUSION Fear of falling is a frequent and persistent condition. Many factors related to persistent fear showed no association with the incidence of fear, emphasizing the need for focused strategies to reduce risk factors that may be associated with the chronification of fear of falling.