Falls in older people have become a major public health concern worldwide, but a comprehensive assessment of the burden of falls for older people in mainland China has not been done. We aimed to investigate the burden of falls among older people at the national and subnational level in mainland China, and explore the trends from 1990 to 2019, using data from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2019.
Using data from GBD 2019, we estimated the burden of falls among people aged 60 years and older by sex and age group in terms of incidence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) rates and assessed these indicators at the subnational level in 31 geographical units (hereafter called provinces). We investigated the overall trend in the burden of falls across these 31 provinces from 1990 to 2019, and assessed the change in the burden of falls by sex, age group (60–64, 65–69, 70–74, 75–79, and ≥80 years), and province between 1990 and 2019.
In 2019, in mainland China, the incidence rate of falls among people aged 60 years and older was 3799·4 (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 3062·4–4645·0) new falls per 100 000 population, and 39·2 deaths (21·8–48·8) per 100 000 population and 1238·9 DALYs (920·5–1553·2) per 100 000 population were due to falls. We found no significant difference in the burden of falls between males and females. The incidence, mortality, and DALY rates of falls for people aged 80 years and older were significantly higher than those in the other age groups, except for incidence rate, which was non-significantly different between the age 75–79 years group and the oldest age group. Large variations in the incidence and DALY rates of falls were observed across 31 provinces. Although between 1990 and 2019 we found no significant changes in overall mortality due to falls in all provinces and in DALY rates for 23 provinces (DALY rates significantly decreased in two provinces and increased in six provinces), we found large increases in the incidence rate of falls in both males (percentage change between 1990 and 2019: 82·9% [67·4–100]) and females (77·0% [63·3–91·8]). The percentage change in incidence rate of falls between 1990 and 2019 varied from 50·0% (42·2–59·5) for people aged 60–64 years to 123·8% (105·4–141·9) for people aged 80 years and older. All provinces had significant increases in the incidence rate of falls between 1990 and 2019, with Sichuan having the greatest increase (148·5% [125·5–171·4]) and Jilin the smallest increase (14·7% [3·6–26·1]).
Between 1990 and 2019, the incidence rate of falls increased substantially in older adults across mainland China, whereas the rates of mortality and DALY of falls among older people remained relatively stable, suggesting improvements in outcomes of falls. Nevertheless, falls remain an ongoing health burden for older people in mainland China, and there is an urgent need to introduce system-wide, integrated, and cost-effective measures to protect and support older people to minimise their risks and combat an increasing absolute burden as the population continues ageing.
Ye P, Er Y, Wang H, Fang L, Li B, Ivers R, Keay L, Duan L, Tian M. Burden of falls among people aged 60 years and older in mainland China, 1990–2019: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet Public Health. 29 November 2021. doi: 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00231-0.