Fall-risk-increasing drugs and falls requiring health care among older people with intellectual disability in comparison with the general population: A register study

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BACKGROUND: Falls are the most common cause of injury for older people in the general population as well as among those with intellectual disability. There are many risk factors for falls, including a range of drugs which are considered to be fall-risk-increasing (FRIDs). The aim of the present study was to describe prescription patterns of FRIDs in itself as well as in relation to falls requiring health care among older people with intellectual disability and their age-peers in the general population. Moreover, to investigate possible differences between the two groups.

METHODS: A cohort of people with intellectual disability and a referent cohort, one-to-one-matched by sex and year of birth, were established. Each cohort comprised 7936 people aged 55+ years at the end of 2012. Register data were collected for 2006-2012 on prescription of antidepressants, anxiolytics, hypnotics and sedatives, opioids, and antipsychotics, as well as for fall-related health care contacts. Analyses were performed on yearly data, using repeated measures models.

RESULTS: People with intellectual disability were more likely to be prescribed at least one FRID (Relative Risk [RR] 2.31). The increase was highest for antipsychotics (RR 25.0), followed by anxiolytics (RR 4.18), antidepressants (RR 2.72), and hypnotics and sedatives (RR 1.42). For opioids, however, a lower prevalence (RR 0.74) was found. In both cohorts, those with prescription of at least one FRID were more likely to have a fall-related injury that required health care. The increased risk was higher in the referent cohort (RR 3.98) than among people with intellectual disability (RR 2.27), although people with intellectual disability and prescription still had a higher risk of falls than those with prescription in the referent cohort (RR 1.27). A similar pattern was found for all drug groups, except for opioids, where prescription carried the same risk of having a fall-related injury that required health care in both cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS: With or without prescription of FRIDs, older people with ID have a higher risk of falls requiring health care than their age-peers in the general population. It is important to be aware of this when prescribing drugs that further increase the risk of falls.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nursing
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0199218
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch

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