Falls resulting in health care among older people with intellectual disability in comparison with the general population

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Falls are common among older people with intellectual disability (ID) and are also a major contributor to injuries in this population. Yet, fall characteristics have only been sparsely studied, and the results are inconsistent. The aim of the present study was to investigate type of falls, places where they occurred and activities that caused them, as well as health outcomes and health utilisation patterns after falls, among older people with ID in comparison with their age peers in the general population.

METHODS: We established an administrative cohort of people with ID aged 55 years, or more, and alive at the end of 2012 (ID cohort; n = 7936). A cohort from the general population, one-to-one matched by sex and year of birth, was used as referents. Data regarding fall-induced health care episodes in inpatient and outpatient specialist care were collected from the National Patient Register for the period 2002-2012.

RESULTS: With the exception of falls from one level to another (i.e. fall on and from stairs and steps, ladder and scaffolding; fall from, out of or through building or structure; fall from tree or cliff and diving or jumping into water; or other fall from one level to another), people in the ID cohort were more likely to fall and fall more often than those in the general population cohort. Falls during a vital activity (e.g. attending to personal hygiene or eating) were twice as common among people with ID compared with the general population. When falling, people with ID were more likely to injure their head and legs but less likely to sustain injuries to the thorax and elbow/forearm. They were more likely to have superficial injuries, open wounds and fractures but less likely to have dislocations, sprain and strains. Fall-related health care visits among people with ID were more likely to be in inpatient care and be unplanned. People with ID were also more likely than those in the general population to have a readmission within 30 days.

CONCLUSIONS: People with ID are more likely to require specialist care after a fall and also more likely to obtain injuries to the head, compared with the general population. This is important to consider when taking preventive measures to reduce falls and fall-related injuries.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Nursing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number3
Early online date2018 Nov 8
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch

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