Falls, Depression and Antidepressants in Later life: A large Primary Care Appraisal

N. Kerse, Leon Flicker, Jon Pfaff, B. Draper, Nicola Lautenschlager, M.G. Sim, J. Snowden, Osvaldo Almeida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Depression and falls are common and co-exist for older people. Safe management of each of these conditions is important to quality of life.Methods: A cross-sectional survey was used to examine medication use associated with injurious and non-injurious falls in 21,900 community-dwelling adults, aged 60 years or over from 383 Australian general practices recruited for the DEPS-GP Project. Falls and injury from falls, medication use, depressive symptoms (Primary Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9)), clinical morbidity, suicidal ideation and intent, health status (SF-12 Health Survey), demographic and lifestyle information was reported in a standardised survey.Findings: Respondents were 71.8 years (sd 7.7) of age and 58.4% were women. 24% 11% and 8% reported falls, fall related injury, and sought medical attention respectively. Antidepressant use (odds ratio, OR: 1.46; 95% confidence interval, 95% CI: 1.25, 1.70), questionable depression (5-14 on PHQ OR: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.13, 1.53) and clinically significant symptoms of depression (15 or more on PHQ OR: 1.70, 95% CI: 1.14, 1.50) were independently associated with multiple falls. SSRI use was associated with the highest risk of multiple falls (OR: 1.66, 95% CI: 1.36, 2.02) amongst all psychotropic medications. Similar associations were observed for injurious falls. Over 60% of those with four accumulated risk factors had multiple falls in the previous year (OR: 3.40, 95% CI: 1.79, 6.45); adjusted for other demographic and health factors.Interpretation: Antidepressant use (particularly SSRIs) was strongly associated with falls regardless of presence of depressive symptoms. Strategies to prevent falls should become a routine part of the management of older people with depression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)online - approx 5-20pp
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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