History of falls, gait, balance, and fall risks in older cancer survivors living in the community

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Older cancer survivors may be predisposed to falls because cancer-related sequelae affect virtually all body systems. The use of a history of falls, gait speed, and balance tests to assess fall risks remains to be investigated in this population. This study examined the relationship of previous falls, gait, and balance with falls in community-dwelling older cancer survivors. At the baseline, demographics, health information, and the history of falls in the past year were obtained through interviewing. Participants performed tests including gait speed, Balance Evaluation Systems Test, and short-version of Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale. Falls were tracked by mailing of monthly reports for 6 months. A “faller” was a person with ≥1 fall during follow-up. Univariate analyses, including independent sample t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests, compared baseline demographics, gait speed, and balance between fallers and non-fallers. For univariate analyses, Bonferroni correction was applied for multiple comparisons. Baseline variables with P<0.15 were included in a forward logistic regression model to identify factors predictive of falls with age as covariate. Sensitivity and specificity of each predictor of falls in the model were calculated. Significance level for the regression analysis was P<0.05. During follow-up, 59% of participants had one or more falls. Baseline demographics, health information, history of falls, gaits speed, and balance tests did not differ significantly between fallers and non-fallers. Forward logistic regression revealed that a history of falls was a significant predictor of falls in the final model (odds ratio =6.81; 95% confidence interval =1.594–29.074) (P<0.05). Sensitivity and specificity for correctly identifying a faller using the positive history of falls were 74% and 69%, respectively. Current findings suggested that for community-dwelling older cancer survivors with mixed diagnoses, asking about the history of falls may help detect individuals at risk of falling.




Huang, M. H., Shilling, T., Miller, K. A., Smith, K., & LaVictoire, K. (2015). History of falls, gait, balance, and fall risks in older cancer survivors living in the community. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 10, 1497–1503. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S89067

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