Sex Differences in Subsequent Falls and Falls Risk: A Prospective Cohort Study in Older Adults

Deborah A. Jehu, Jennifer C. Davis, Cindy K. Barha, Kristin Vesely, Winnie Cheung, Cheyenne Ghag, Teresa Liu-Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Sex differences for subsequent falls and falls risk factors in community-dwelling older adults who have fallen are unknown. Our aim was to: (1) compare the number of falls between sexes, (2) identify modifiable falls risk factors, and (3) explore the interaction of sex on falls risk factors in older adults who fall. Methods: Four hundred sixty-two community dwellers seeking medical attention after an index fall were recruited from the Vancouver Falls Prevention Clinic and participated in this 12-month prospective cohort study. Ninety-six participants were part of a randomized controlled trial of exercise. Falls were tracked with monthly falls calendars. Demographics, falls risk measures, and the number of subsequent falls were compared between sexes. A principal component analysis (PCA) was employed to reduce the falls risk measures to a smaller set of factors. The PCA factors were used in negative binomial regression models to predict the number of subsequent falls. Age, exposure time (i.e., number of falls monitoring days), and prescribed exercise (yes/no) were used as covariates, and sex (male/female) and PCA factors were used as main effects. The interaction of sex by PCA factor was then included. Results: Males fell more over 12 months (males: 2.80 ± 6.86 falls; females: 1.25 ± 2.63 falls) than females, and poorer executive function predicted falls in males. Four PCA factors were defined - impaired cognition and mobility, low mood and self-efficacy, mobility resilience, and perceived poor health - each predicted the number of falls. The sex by mobility resilience interaction suggested that mobility resilience was less protective of falls in males. Conclusion: Modifiable risk factors related to cognition, physical function, psychological wellbeing, and health status predicted subsequent falls. In males, better mobility was not as protective of falls compared with females. This may be due to males' poorer executive function, contributing to decreased judgement or slowed decision-making during mobility. These results may inform efficacious sex-specific falls prevention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Falls
  • Falls risk factors
  • Older adults
  • Resilience
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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