Original Article

Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 450-456

First online:

Depressive symptoms and fear of falling in previously community-dwelling older persons recovering from proximal femoral fracture

  • Petra BenzingerAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch Krankenhaus Email author 
  • , G. A. Rixt ZijlstraAffiliated withDepartment of Health Care and Nursing Science, CAPHRI-School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University
  • , Ulrich LindemannAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch Krankenhaus
  • , Simone NicolaiAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch KrankenhausDepartment of Process Compliance and Improvement, Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering
  • , Ruth HoffrichterAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch Krankenhaus
  • , Michael JamourAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Clinic, Krankenhaus GmbH Alb-Donau Kreis
  • , Clemens BeckerAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch Krankenhaus
  • , Klaus PfeifferAffiliated withGeriatric Rehabilitation Hospital, Robert-Bosch Krankenhaus

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Background and aims: Depression and fear of falling are common problems following proximal femoral fracture. The role of fear of falling in depressive symptoms after such a fracture has not yet been investigated. The aim of this study was to establish possible changes during recovery in fear of falling and depressive symptoms following rehabilitation in this population and to explore their association. Methods: Observational study with pre-post design at a single geriatric rehabilitation hospital in Germany. Data were collected during in-hospital rehabilitation and four months later at participants’ home. The data of 51 participants living in the community at the time of fracture could be analysed. Main measures: Fear of falling, depressive symptoms, cognition, pain, ADL functioning, and physical performance. Results: Although physical and ADL performance improved between admission to rehabilitation and follow-up four months later, the prevalence of depressive symptoms increased, and levels of fear of falling remained at the same level. There was a significant correlation between fear of falling and depressive symptoms at follow-up, but the two were not significantly correlated at baseline. Fear of falling and depressive symptoms were not significantly associated in a path analysis model. Conclusions: Fear of falling and depressive symptoms are highly prevalent after proximal femoral fracture. Yet there seems to be no simple association between either psychological parameter in older persons recovering from fall-related fractures. Further research is warranted, in order to develop interventions targeting these psychological outcomes.

Key words

Depression fear of falling femoral fracture hip fracture rehabilitation