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OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of clinically relevant falls-related outcomes according to pain status in older adults in the United States. DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study, a sample of Medicare enrollees aged 65 and older (response rate 71.0%). SETTING: In-person assessments were conducted in the home or residential care facility of the sampled study participant. PARTICIPANTS: Individuals aged 65 and older (n = 7,601, representing 35.3 million Medicare beneficiaries). MEASUREMENTS: Participants were asked whether they had been "bothered by pain" and the location of pain, as well as questions about balance and coordination, fear of falling, and falls. RESULTS: Fifty-three percent of the participants reported bothersome pain. The prevalence of recurrent falls in the past year (≥ 2 falls) was 19.5% in participants with pain and 7.4% in those without (age- and sex-adjusted prevalence ratio (PR) = 2.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.28-3.05). The prevalence of fear of falling that limits activity was 18.0% in those with pain and 4.4% in those without (adjusted PR = 3.98, 95% CI = 3.24-4.87). Prevalence of balance and falls outcomes increased with number of pain sites. For example, prevalence of problems with balance and coordination that limited activity was 6.6% in participants with no pain, 11.6% in those with one site of pain, 17.7% in those with two sites, 25.0% in those with three sites, and 41.4% in those with four or more sites (P < .001 for trend). Associations were robust to adjustment for several potential confounders, including cognitive and physical performance. CONCLUSION: Falls-related outcomes were substantially more common in older adults with pain than in those without. Accordingly, pain management strategies should be developed and evaluated for falls prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


J am geriatr soc

Publication Date





1844 - 1852


aging, balance, epidemiology, falls, fear of falling, pain, Accidental Falls, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Analgesics, Body Mass Index, Cognition, Cross-Sectional Studies, Depression, Educational Status, Fear, Female, Humans, Male, Pain, Postural Balance, Prevalence, Sedentary Behavior, Sex Factors, Surveys and Questionnaires, United States