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Cross-sectional analysis of ethnic differences in fall prevalence in urban dwellers aged 55 years and over in the Malaysian Elders Longitudinal Research study
  1. Deepa Alex1,
  2. Hui Min Khor1,2,
  3. Ai Vyrn Chin1,2,
  4. Noran Naqiah Hairi3,
  5. Sajaratulnisah Othman4,
  6. Selina Phaik Kin Khoo5,
  7. Shahrul Bahyah Kamaruzzaman1,2,
  8. Maw Pin Tan1,2
  1. 1 Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Malaya Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. 2 Ageing and Age-Associated Disorders Research Group, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  3. 3 Julius Centre, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  4. 4 Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  5. 5 Sports Centre, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Maw Pin Tan; mptan{at}


Objectives Falls represent major health issues within the older population. In low/middle-income Asian countries, falls in older adults remain an area which has yet to be studied in detail. Using data from the Malaysian Elders Longitudinal Research (MELoR), we have estimated the prevalence of falls among older persons in an urban population, and performed ethnic comparisons in the prevalence of falls.

Design Cross-sectional analysis was carried out using the first wave data from MELoR which is a longitudinal study.

Setting Urban community dwellers in a middle-income South East Asian country.

Participants 1565 participants aged ≥55 years were selected by simple random sampling from the electoral rolls of three parliamentary constituencies.

Outcome measures Consenting participants from the MELoR study were asked the question ‘Have you fallen down in the past 12 months?’ during their computer-assisted home-based interviews. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to compare the prevalence of falls among various ethnic groups.

Results The overall estimated prevalence of falls for individuals aged 55 years and over adjusted to the population of Kuala Lumpur was 18.9%. The estimated prevalence of falls for the three ethnic populations of Malays, Chinese and Indian aged 55 years and over was 16.2%, 19.4% and 23.8%, respectively. Following adjustment for ethnic discrepancies in age, gender, marital status and education attainment, the Indian ethnicity remained an independent predictor of falls in our population (relative risk=1.45, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.85).

Conclusion The prevalence of falls in this study is comparable to other previous Asian studies, but appears lower than Western studies. The predisposition of the Indian ethnic group to falls has not been previously reported. Further studies may be needed to elucidate the causes for the ethnic differences in fall prevalence.

  • falls
  • prevalence
  • elderly
  • ethnic differences

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  • Contributors AVC, NNH, SO, SPKK, SBK and MPT conceived the study, contributed to study design, obtained the funding for the study and were responsible to the conduct of the study. HMK was involved in data collection. DA, HMK and MPT contributed to data analysis. All authors contributed towards the writing of the manuscript and approved the final submitted version.

  • Funding This study was funded by a Ministry of Higher Education High Impact Research Grant (UM.C/625/1/HIR/MOHE/ASH/02). The authors in this study are also recipients of a University of Malaya Grand Challenge Fund (GC002-14HTM).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval University of Malaya Medical Centre Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Due to concerns about loss of fidelity of personally identifiable data, the MELoR data set is currently not available publicly. However, parts of the data set will be released anonymised through written requests submitted to the corresponding author.

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