Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing Dissertations

Publication Date


Document Type

Dissertation, Doctoral


Graduate School of Nursing

Dissertation Committee Chair

Jean Boucher


Comorbidities, Falls, Inpatient, Middle-age, Risk factors, Accidental Falls, Middle Aged

Subject Categories

Nursing | Public Health


Falls remain one of the most reportable, serious and costly type of adverse events costing an estimated $3,500 to $27,000 depending on the injury. The research often focuses on the elderly and their risk for falls and injury. Increasingly higher rates of falls are being reported in the middle-age inpatient 45 to 64 years of age. While predictors of falls and injuries have been studied across all adult inpatients, research has not specifically addressed fall risk characteristics in the middle-age. The World Health Organization’s (WHO), “Risk factor model for fall in older age”, framework was adapted for the middle-age inpatient. This framework identifies extrinsic and intrinsic variables from four risk factor groupings of biological, socioeconomic, behavioral, environmental and related outcomes to describe characteristics of the middle-age inpatient’s fall injury risk. Hitcho et al. (2004) seminal article was also used to identify pertinent inpatient characteristics. The purpose of this exploratory retrospective quantitative study described fall risk factors specific to the middle-age inpatient. The aims: (1) described risk factors of falls and fall injury; (2) described unit specific data, fall numbers with type of falls, injuries from falls, and prevention strategies (3) compare the incidence of fall and injury rates in the middle-age (45- 64) patients to the other hospital adult age-groups (ages 21-44 and 65-90). This study used retrospective hospital occurrence data to identify middle-age inpatient falls and related characteristics reported by staff. Chart review of inpatient falls identified 439 individual falls occurring from January 2012 through July 2014. The study sample included inpatients that fell either one-time or had a repeat fall during the study period. Analysis for data included use of descriptive statistics, crosstabs, and Poisson regression. Outcomes collected included demographics, admitting diagnosis, chief complaints, cormorbities, and discharge status, type of falls and areas of falls. There was no significant difference in rates of falls between units or in staffing ratios that had a bearing on the middle-age inpatient. Fall prevention interventions were found to be universally applied, not specific to the individual, nor based on outcomes of risk screening of anticipated physiological risk factors. In comparison of the middle-age inpatient population with those age 65 -90 years of age the rates per 1000 patient days for both falls (p=.637) and injuries (p=.626) had no significant difference. Males fell at a significantly higher rate (p=.000) than females in the middle-age inpatient and those aged 64-90 years. The middle-age inpatient fell at an alarming rate of 42% of all falls.

This research provided insight into a population with acute and multiple chronic disease conditions and comorbidities that contribute to altered mental status, abnormal gait and frequently awaking at night to void. This population often overestimates their limitations and strives to maintain their autonomy. The age of the patient should not influence staff assessment of alertness and orientation. The findings of the characteristics in this research provide rich information for further research in how to include the middle-age patient in clinical decision making and education of this age group.


Material from this dissertation has been published in: Guillaume D, Crawford S, Quigley P. Characteristics of the middle-age adult inpatient fall. Appl Nurs Res. 2016 Aug;31:65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2016.01.003. PubMed PMID: 27397821.



Rights and Permissions

© Copyright by Donna M. Guillaume 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.