Do Sleep Problems or Urinary Incontinence Predict falls in Elderly Women?

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Physiotherapy Association


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computing, Health and Science




Teo, J. S., Briffa, N. K., Devine, A., Dhaliwal, S. S., & Prince, R. L. (2006). Do sleep problems or urinary incontinence predict falls in elderly women?. Australian journal of physiotherapy, 52(1), 19-24. Available here


The objectives of this cross-sectional study were: (1) To determine if night-time sleep disturbance, daytime sleepiness, or urinary incontinence were associated with an increased risk of falling in older Australian women and (2) to explore the interrelationships between daytime sleepiness, night-time sleep problems, and urge incontinence. Participants were 782 ambulatory, community-dwelling women aged 75 to 86 recruited from within the existing Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study, in which women above 70 years were selected at random from the electoral roll. Daytime sleepiness, night-time sleep problems, urinary incontinence and falls data were collected via self-complete questionnaires. Thirty-five per cent of participants had fallen at least once in the past 12 months and 37.7% reported at least one night-time sleep problem. However, only 8.1% of the study sample experienced abnormal daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale score > 10). Pure stress, pure urge, and mixed incontinence occurred in 36.8%, 3.7%, and 32.6% of participants respectively. In forward stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis, urge incontinence (OR 1.76; 95% CI 1.29 to 2.41) and abnormal daytime sleepiness (OR 2.05; 95% CI 1.21 to 3.49) were significant independent risk factors for falling after controlling for other falls risk factors (age, central nervous system drugs, cardiovascular drugs). As urge incontinence and abnormal daytime sleepiness were independently associated with an increased falls risk, effective management of these problems may reduce the risk of falling in older women.



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