Exploring the relationship between fear of falling and neuroticism: a cross-sectional study in community-dwelling women over 70

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Background: fear of falling in older adults has been associated with generalised anxiety and may lead to avoidance of activities, with a further negative impact on future falls. Individual differences in personality associated with anxiety have not been previously examined in relation to fear of falling. Current assessment measures and interventions designed to reduce fear of falling in older adults do not take into account perceptions of anxiety associated with individual differences in personality.

Aim: to determine whether the core personality trait dimension of neuroticism can predict fear of falling in a community-dwelling sample of women >= 70 years of age.

Methods: cross-sectional data from 1,691 UK, community-dwelling female participants aged >= 70 years were examined using multiple and logistic regression analysis. Fear of falling was measured on a 6-point Likert scale. Neuroticism was measured using the Eysenck personality inventory.

Results: the significant independent odds ratios (OR) of predicting fear of falling were: neuroticism (OR 1.47 per SD increase, P < 0.001), history of falling (OR 1.57, P < 0.001), experience of fracture (OR 1.78, P = 0.014), need to use both arms to push up to rise from a chair (OR 1.56, P = 0.001), poor subjective general health, as measured by the SF12 (OR 1.63 per SD decrease, P < 0.001) and living alone (OR 1.31, P = 0.031).

Conclusions: neuroticism seems to be an important psychological factor in the experience of fear of falling in community-dwelling older women. It may be relevant for inclusion in current assessment measures and for consideration in the design of interventions to reduce fear of falling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-147
Number of pages6
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • fear of falling
  • personality
  • anxiety
  • elderly
  • HOME

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