Fear of Falling in Older Adults: A Scoping Review of Recent Literature

Authors

  • Scott MacKay University of Calgary
  • Patricia Ebert University of Calgary; Calgary Regional Health Authority
  • Cathy Harbidge Calgary Regional Health Authority
  • David B. Hogan University of Calgary

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5770/cgj.24.521

Keywords:

fear of falling, falls, older adults, scoping review

Abstract

Background 

Fear of falling (FOF) is prevalent among older adults and associated with adverse health outcomes. Over recent years a substantial body of research has emerged on its epidemiology, associated factors, and consequences. This scoping review summarizes the FOF literature published between April 2015 and March 2020 in order to inform current practice and identify gaps in the literature. 

Methods 

A total of 439 articles related to FOF in older adults were identified, 56 selected for full-text review, and 46 retained for data extraction and synthesis. 

Results 

The majority of included studies were cross-sectional. Older age, female sex, previous falls, worse physical performance, and depressive symptoms were the factors most consistently associated with FOF. Studies that measured FOF with a single question reported a significantly lower prevalence of FOF than those using the Falls Efficacy Scale, a continuous measure. FOF was associated with higher likelihoods of future falls, short-term mortality, and functional decline. 

Conclusions 

Comparisons between studies were limited by inconsistent definition and measurement of FOF, falls, and other characteristics. Consensus on how to measure FOF and which participant characteristics to evaluate would address this issue. Gaps in the literature include clarifying the relationships between FOF and cognitive, psychological, social, and environmental factors. 

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Published

2021-12-01

How to Cite

1.
MacKay S, Ebert P, Harbidge C, Hogan DB. Fear of Falling in Older Adults: A Scoping Review of Recent Literature. Can Geriatr J [Internet]. 2021 Dec. 1 [cited 2022 Jan. 26];24(4):379-94. Available from: https://cgjonline.ca/index.php/cgj/article/view/521

Issue

Section

Reviews