Why Is This Important?Falls are a leading cause of injury death for Utahns aged 65 and older. Additionally, in Utah, unintentional fall-related inpatient hospital charges for all ages totaled more than $185 million in 2014.
Unintentional Fall Hospitalizations by Urban-Other Residence, Utah, 1992-2014
- Utah Inpatient Hospital Discharge Data, Office of Health Care Statistics, Utah Department of Health
- Population Estimates: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) through a collaborative agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau, IBIS Version 2017
Data NotesICD-9 codes include E880-E886.9 and E888. Age-adjusted to U.S. 2000 population. County designation is based on the patient's residence and not where the fall occurred. Urban Counties include Utah, Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, and Cache.
Risk FactorsRisk factors for falls include older age, poor eyesight, lack of regular exercise, poor nutrition, substance abuse and smoking, and misuse of medications. Some medications can cause drowsiness or dizziness and some drugs can interact with other medications or alcohol and cause problems that may lead to falling. In addition, certain health conditions can increase the risk of falls including osteoporosis, arthritis, clinical depression, dementia, and neurological or musculoskeletal disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. In the home environmental hazards such as poor lighting, lack of grab bars and handrails, slippery or wet surfaces, uneven floors and surfaces, clutter, and loose throw rugs are factors in many falls.
How Are We Doing?Unintentional falls caused 626 unintentional fall-related deaths in Utah from 2015-2017; almost 80% (500/626) of deaths were among Utahns aged 65 and older.
Between 2012 and 2014, females aged 65 and older had a significantly higher rate of hospitalizations due to unintentional falls (143 per 10,000 population) than males aged 65 and older (83.8 per 10,000 population).
Between 1992-2014, urban counties had consistently higher rates of unintentional fall hospitalizations than rural and frontier counties.
What Is Being Done?The Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP) receives funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect traumatic brain injury surveillance data, including a falls-specific data module, for the state of Utah. This is done through review of hospital discharge data, vital statistics data, and hospital records abstractions.
Local health departments and other community-based agencies have implemented evidence-based falls prevention programs, such as the Stepping On program and Matter of Balance program. These programs work to increase strength and balance, reduce fall hazards in the home, and build self-efficacy among participants to reduce the fear of falling. National research shows the programs reduce falls among participants. The classes are free to the public.
The Utah Falls Prevention Coalition was established by the VIPP in 2011 with the purpose of developing a strategic, statewide response to Utah's growing rate of falls among older adults in the state. Until this time, there had been no single, statewide response to address this public health problem in Utah. Many organizations were implementing falls prevention activities but resources and activities were scattered and disconjointed when looked at from a public health perspective. The Coalition has three main purposes: 1) bring together partners who have an interest in falls prevention among older adults, 2) develop goals and strategies on falls prevention among older adults to include in the Utah Violence and Injury Plan, and 3) ready the state for future funding opportunities on falls prevention.
Healthy People Objective: Prevent an increase in fall-related deaths among adults aged 65 years and olderU.S. Target: 47.0 deaths per 100,000 population
Date Indicator Content Last Updated: 11/08/2018