Research Article

Home accidents in older people: role of primary health care team.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 04 July 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:30
  1. H. J. Graham,
  2. J. Firth


    OBJECTIVES--To determine the incidence and nature of unreported and reported home accidents in older people and to investigate associated environmental factors. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire requesting information on home accidents in the preceding month. SETTING--Inner London general practice. SUBJECTS--All registered patients aged over 65 years (n = 1662), of whom 120 were inappropriately registered and 1293 responded. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Circumstances and consequences of accidents in the home. RESULTS--108 accidents were recorded in 100 patients, giving a home accident rate of 84/1000 patients, equivalent to an annual rate of 1002/1000. 73 accidents were falls, and 83 were unreported. Of the 25 reported accidents, 19 were reported to general practice and six to accident and emergency departments (5.6% of all events). Rates of home accidents increased with age and were higher in women than men (79/819 upsilon 29/474; chi 2 = 4.5, df = 1, p less than 0.05). CONCLUSIONS--The incidence of home accidents in people aged over 65 years was high but few events were reported to medical services. General practice provided the main contact for patients who reported home accidents, and primary care workers have important opportunities for advising elderly patients on home accident prevention. Improved publicity on home safety targeted at older people and their carers would support the primary health care team in this role.