Falls and social isolation of older adults in the national health and aging trends study

Janet S. Pohl, Barbara B. Cochrane, Karen G. Schepp, Nancy F. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A longitudinal secondary analysis of 2 years of data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study was undertaken to determine the extent to which social isolation predicts falls in older adults. Social isolation during Year 1 (baseline) was operationalized as a multiple-indicator measure based on Social Network Index participation domains. Falling during the previous year was self-reported using Year 2 data. Logistic regression models revealed social isolation significantly predicted falls (odds ratio [OR] = 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.05, 1.17]). The relationship remained significant after adjusting for age, gender, and education (OR = 1.08; 95% CI [1.02, 1.14]). The relationship weakened after adjusting for self-reported general health, depression risk, and worry about falling (OR = 1.02; 95% CI [0.96, 1.08]). Adjusting for Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), assistive mobility device, and activities of daily living further weakened the relationship (OR = 0.99; 95% CI [0.94, 1.04]). SPPB demonstrated the strongest correlation with social isolation (r = -0.42; p < 0.01). Fall prevention intervention studies specifically targeting social isolation may incorporate physical performance as a shorter-term and cost-eff ective proxy outcome for falls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalResearch in Gerontological Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Gerontology
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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