Fear of falling has multifactorial roots in elderly adults with cancer
Several mental and physical factors, including cognitive status and prior falls, contribute to the fear of falling (FOF) among elderly adults with cancer, a recent study has found.
Accessing the International Mobility in Ageing Study, researchers identified 175 elderly adults (mean age, 69.3 years; 50.2 percent female) who self-identified as cancer patients. The primary outcome was FOF, as measured by the Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I). A parallel group of 177 healthy, age-matched participants was also enrolled.
In cancer patients, FOF varied significantly according to clinical variables. In particular, FES-I scores were higher among patients with a high burden of depressive symptoms, poor physical performance status and a history of falls in the prior year.
Multiple linear regression analysis confirmed that depressive symptoms, as measured by the Centre of Epidemiological Studies-Depression tool, was a risk factor for FOF with borderline significance (estimate, 0.16; p=0.09). In comparison, the number of falls in the last 12 months was able to significantly predict FOF (estimate, 0.93; p=0.01).
On the other hand, global cognition, as measured by the Leganes Cognitive Test (estimate, –1.35; p=0.00), and physical performance (estimate, –2.23; p<0.0001) were both significantly but negatively correlated with FOF.
“This study found that FOF is multifactorial in people with cancer,” the researchers said. “Recognizing and designing an intervention that targets these factors would help in reducing the impact of FOF in people with cancer.”
“This study lays the groundwork for future studies of cancer and FOF that include a broader range of risk factors,” they added.