Can a questionnaire used in primary care identify elderly patients who are at high risk of falling? Researchers in Japan combined retrospective and prospective studies of 2 different patient samples to develop a method to identify elderly patients with high risk of falling. In the retrospective portion of the study, 1871 community-dwelling adults were assessed for fall risk in community day centers. The number of falls and risk factors were determined for each person using a 15 factor questionnaire, the Chair Standing Test, and the Timed Up and Go Test. Factors identified in the retrospective study were applied in a prospective study of 292 people to determine predictive value. A cutoff score of 4 on the questionnaire was optimal and produced a sensitivity and specificity of 84% and 68%, respectively. The study confirmed that a simple screening tool applied in primary care may identify people with a high risk of falling and allow intervention to prevent falls.
Hirase T, Inokuchi S, Matsusaka N, Nakahara K, Okita M. A modified fall risk assessment tool that is specific to physical function predicts falls in community-dwelling elderly people. J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2014; Epub ahead of print. PMID: 24577358.