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Objectives: To quantify gender differences for non-fatal unintentional fall related injuries among US adults age 65 years and older treated in hospital emergency departments (EDs).
Methods: The authors analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of ED visits for January 2001 through December 2001, available through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). For each initial ED visit, coders record one principal diagnosis (usually the most severe) and one primary part of the body affected.
Results: Based on 22 560 cases, an estimated 1.64 million older adults were treated in EDs for unintentional fall injuries. Of these, approximately 1.16 million, or 70.5%, were women. Fractures, contusions/abrasions, and lacerations accounted for more than three quarters of all injuries. Rates for injury diagnoses were generally higher among women, most notably for fractures which were 2.2 times higher than for men. For all parts of the body, women's injury rates exceeded those of men. Rate ratios were greatest for injuries of the leg/foot (2.3), arm/hand (2.0), and lower trunk (2.0). The hospitalization rate for women was 1.8 times that for men.
Conclusions: Among older adults, non-fatal fall related injuries disproportionately affected women. Much is known about effective fall prevention strategies. We need to refine, promote, and implement these interventions. Additional research is needed to tailor interventions for different populations and to determine gender differences in the underlying causes and/or circumstances of falls. This information is vital for developing and implementing targeted fall prevention strategies.