Association of polypharmacy with fall risk among geriatric outpatients


Dr Masahiro Akishita MD PhD, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan. Email:


Aim:  To investigate the association of fall risk with comorbidities and medications in geriatric outpatients in a cross-sectional design.

Methods:  A total of 262 outpatients (84 men and 178 women, mean age 76.2 ± 6.8 years) were evaluated. Physical examination, clinical histories and medication profile were obtained from each patient. History of falls in the past year, 22-item fall risk index, 13-point simple screening test for fall, and time interval of one-leg standing test were examined as markers of fall risk.

Results:  On univariate analysis, older age, female sex, hypertension, osteoporosis, history of stroke, number of comorbidities, use of antihypertensives, aspirin, bisphosphonates, hypnotics and number of prescribed drugs were significantly associated with either of four indices. On multiple regression analysis, the number of drugs was associated with all of the four indices, independent of other factors associated in the univariate analysis. The association of number of drugs with fall risk indices was stepwise.

Conclusion:  In geriatric outpatients, polypharmacy rather than number of comorbidities was associated with fall risk. Prospective and intervention studies are needed to clarify the causal relationship between polypharmacy, comorbidities and fall risk. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2011; 11: 438–444.