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The health-related quality of life and cost implications of falls in elderly women

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Fractures and falls are serious cause of morbidity and cost to society. Our results suggest that the main burden to morbidity, measured as impact on health-related quality of life, is due to fear of falling rather than falls or their sequelae, such as fractures.


Fractures and falls are serious cause of morbidity and cost to society. We investigated the impact on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) associated with falls, fractures and fear of falling and falls and fractures cost.


Three datasets providing longitudinal data on fear of falling, HRQoL and a common set of baseline risk factors for fracture (smoking status, weight and age) were analysed. Multilevel random effects models were used to estimate the long-term impact on HRQoL associated with falls, fractures and fear of falling. Healthcare resource use primary data were collected to estimate falls and fractures cost.


Older, low weight and smoking women reported lower HRQoL. The impact on HRQoL of a fracture was at least twice as large as that associated with falls. The largest negative effect on HRQoL was associated with self-reported fear of falling. The cost of falls was £1088. Similarly, the cost of falls leading to a fracture was £15,133, £2,753, £1,863, £1,331 and £3,498 for hip, wrist, arm, vertebral and other fractures, respectively.


The main burden to morbidity is due to fear of falling. Interventions aimed at reducing fear of falling may produce larger gains in HRQoL.

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This work was undertaken by The University of York who received funding from the Department of Health. The views expressed in the publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Department of Health. Also, we would like to thank two anonymous referees for their valuable comments on a previous version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to C. P. Iglesias.

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Iglesias, C.P., Manca, A. & Torgerson, D.J. The health-related quality of life and cost implications of falls in elderly women. Osteoporos Int 20, 869–878 (2009).

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