OBJECTIVE--To investigate age and sex influences on fall characteristics. METHODS--A total of 1243 subjects (517 males and 726 females) aged 50 years and over and drawn from population based sampling frames were invited to complete an interviewer administered questionnaire concerning descriptive characteristics of falls experienced in the previous four months. Information collected included details about the part of the body to strike the ground, direction of the fall, level of trauma and whether or not injury or fracture was sustained. RESULTS--One hundred and seventy two subjects reported a fall in the previous four months. Restricting analysis to the 142 subjects who fell from a standing height or less, females aged 50-64 years were more than twice as likely to fall onto their hand compared with older females (odds ratio (OR) = 2.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.8 to 6.2) and at all ages (50+) were more than three times as likely to fall on their hip compared with males (OR = 3.4; 95% CI 1.0 to 11.5). Compared with older males, males aged 50-64 were more likely to fall sideways (OR = 5.1; 95% CI 1.5 to 17.4) and less likely to fall forwards (OR = 0.4; 95% CI 0.1 to 1.1). CONCLUSION--There is a potentially clinically important variation in fall type by age and sex. In particular, this variation might explain patterns of occurrence of hip and Colles' fracture.
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