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Prospective associations between pain at multiple sites and falls among community dwelling older Australians


Balogun, SA and Srikanth, V and van der Leeuw, G and Callisaya, ML, Prospective associations between pain at multiple sites and falls among community dwelling older Australians, Internal Medicine Journal pp. 1-22. ISSN 1444-0903 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1111/imj.15659



Pain at multiple sites is prevalent among older people. Yet, studies investigating the relationship between pain and falls focus largely on single-site pain. This study aims to examine the association between pain at multiple sites and falls among community-dwelling older Australians.


Participants aged >60 years were randomly selected from the electoral roll. Falls were recorded prospectively over 12 months. Pain at multiple sites was assessed using a questionnaire. The total number of painful sites was calculated. Widespread pain was defined as pain in the upper-limb, lower-limb and in the axial skeletal region, with moderate to severe pain in at least one region. Log multinomial regression, with adjustment for confounders, was used to estimate whether widespread pain or number of painful sites increased the risk of a single (1 fall) and multiple falls (≥2 falls).


There were 299 participants (43% women; mean age 727.0 years). The mean (SD) of falls was 0.81.5. The frequencies of single and multiple falls were 23% (n=68) and 16% (n=49) respectively. A higher number of painful sites was associated with an elevated risk of a single fall (RR=1.08, 95% CI: 0.96, 1.27) and multiple falls (RR=1.20, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.41). However, the risk of multiple, but not single fall was substantial and statistically significant. Furthermore, compared to those without pain, individuals with widespread pain had an elevated risk of single (RR=1.87, 95% CI: 0.80, 5.09) and multiple falls (RR=3.94, 95% CI: 1.15, 13.51). However, the magnitude of effects of single fall was smaller and not statistically significant.


Falls risk should be ascertained for older people with pain, irrespective of whether they present with a single or multiple sites pain. Nevertheless, older adults with multisite pain may require additional attention as they appear to have a significantly elevated risk of multiple falls.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:pain, falls
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Geriatrics and gerontology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Primary care
UTAS Author:Balogun, SA (Dr Saliu Balogun)
UTAS Author:Callisaya, ML (Dr Michele Callisaya)
ID Code:148604
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2022-01-27
Last Modified:2022-02-24

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