Background: Falls, associated injuries and fear-of-falling are common in adults with RA. Fear-of-falling can be a major consequence of, and as debilitating as falling, resulting in a cycle of activity restriction, reduced quality of life, institutionalisation and potentially increase risk of falls. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between fear-of-falling and risk factors associated with fear-of-falling in adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over a 1 year period. Methods: Five hundred fifty-nine patients with RA were recruited from four outpatient clinics in this prospective cohort study. Baseline assessments included socio-demographic, medical and lifestyle related risk factors. Fall incidence was prospectively obtained monthly using postal cards over a 1 year period. Fear-of-falling was assessed at baseline and 1 year using the Short Falls Efficacy Scale-International (Short FES-I). Logistic regression was used to determine the association between high fear-of-falling (Short FES-I > 11) at baseline (outcome) and a range of putative predictor variables including previous falls, and also baseline factors associated with a high fear-of-falling at follow-up. Results: Five hundred thirty-five (ninety-six percent) participants (mean age 62.1 yrs.; 18–88 yrs) completed 1 year follow-up and of these, 254 (47%) completed the Short FES-I questionnaire at 1 year. In a multivariate model, a history of multiple falls (OR = 6.08) higher HAQ score (OR = 4.87) and increased time to complete the Chair Stand Test (OR = 1.11) were found to be independent predictors of high fear-of-falling and had an overall classification rate of 87.7%. There were no significant differences found in fear-of-falling at 1 year follow-up in those who reported falls during the study, participant’s baseline fear appeared to predict future fear, regardless of further falls. Conclusions: Fear-of-falling is significantly associated with previous falls and predictive of future falls and fear. RA patients would benefit from fall prevention measures whether or not they have previously fallen.
- physical function
- rhematoid arthritis