Original research| Volume 96, ISSUE 12, P2145-2152, December 2015

Self-Awareness of Falls Risk Among Elderly Patients: Characterizing Awareness Deficits and Exploring Associated Factors

Published:August 21, 2015DOI:



      To characterize self-awareness in older adults undergoing inpatient rehabilitation and explore factors associated with reduced awareness of falls risk.


      Prospective, cross-sectional design.


      Older adult inpatient rehabilitation setting.


      Rehabilitation inpatients (N=91; mean age, 77.97±8.04y) and their treating physiotherapist.



      Main Outcome Measures

      Three aspects of self-awareness (intellectual, emergent, anticipatory) were measured using the Self-Awareness of Falls Risk Measure. Demographic, medical, and cognitive (Mini-Mental State Examination) information were collected. Current ability was measured using the FIM and timed Up and Go test.


      Of the patients in the sample, 31% to 63% underestimated falls risk and 3% to 10% overestimated falls risk depending on the aspect of awareness measured. Different aspects of reduced self-awareness were correlated with being a man, higher educational attainment, neurologic history, lower cognitive ability, and lower functional ability. Regression analysis indicated that sex (β=−.33, P=.004), education (β=−.30, P=.006), and neurologic history (β=−.22, P=.038) were independently associated with overall self-awareness.


      The results suggest that a proportion of older adults undergoing inpatient rehabilitation underestimate personal falls risk. Further research is required to investigate the contributors to and effects of reduced self-awareness of falls risk. Greater understanding of these factors will facilitate the development of strategies to increase awareness of falls risk and increase engagement in falls prevention.


      List of abbreviations:

      MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination), TUG (timed Up and Go)
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