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Unintentional fall-related mortality in the elderly: comparing patterns in two countries with different demographic structure

13 Aug 2015

Objectives

Falls are among the major external causes of unintentional injury and injury-related mortality in the elderly. The aim of this study was to compare the patterns of unintentional fall-related mortalities in two countries with different demographic structure: Slovakia and Austria in 2003–2010.

Methods

A study was conducted using death certificate data, trends of fall-related mortality in the elderly (over 65 years) in Austria and Slovakia were compared. Crude and age-standardised mortality rates were calculated. Rate ratios were used to quantify differences based on age, sex and country. The role of demographic structure and population ageing was considered.

Results

The annual average crude mortality for Slovakia was 28.82, for Austria 54.19 per 100 000 person-years. Increasing rates were observed towards higher age in both countries. Males had higher mortality than females (1.18 times higher in Austria, 2.4 higher in Slovakia). In ages over 75 years rates were significantly higher in Austria, compared to Slovakia. Injuries to head (in males) and hip (in females) were most commonly the underlying cause of death. The proportion of populations over 65 and over 80 and rate of their increase were higher in Austria than in Slovakia.

Conclusions

We conclude that higher proportions of the elderly population of Austria could have contributed to the higher fall-related mortality rates compared to Slovakia, especially in females over 80 years. Our study quantified the differences between two countries with different structure of the elderly population and these findings could be used in planning future needs of health and social services and to plan prevention in countries where a rapid increase in age of the population can be foreseen.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open