Does pride really come before a fall? Longitudinal analysis of older English adults

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To test whether high levels of reported pride are associated with subsequent falls.

DESIGN

Secondary analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) dataset.

SETTING

Multi-wave longitudinal sample of non-institutionalised older English adults.

PARTICIPANTS

ELSA cohort of 6415 participants at wave 5 (baseline, 2010/11), of whom 4964 were available for follow-up at wave 7 (follow-up, 2014/15).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES

Self reported pride at baseline (low/moderate/high) and whether the participant had reported having fallen during the two years before follow-up.

RESULTS

The findings did not support the contention that “pride comes before a fall.” Unadjusted estimates indicate that the odds of reported falls were significantly lower for people with high pride levels compared with those who had low pride (odds ratio 0.69, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 0.81, P<0.001). This association remained after adjustment for age, sex, household wealth, and history of falls (odds ratio 0.81, 0.68 to 0.97, P<0.05). It was partially attenuated after further adjustment for mobility problems, eyesight problems, the presence of a limiting long term illness, a diagnosis of arthritis or osteoporosis, medication use, cognitive function, and pain and depression (odds ratio 0.86, 0.72 to 1.03, P<0.1). Because the confidence interval exceeded 1 in the final model, it remains possible that pride may not be an independent predictor of falls when known risk factors are considered. People with moderate pride did not have lower odds of having fallen than those with low pride in adjusted models. Participants lost to follow-up did not differ from those retained in terms of key variables, and weighting the analyses to account for selective attrition did not produce different results.

CONCLUSIONS

Contrary to the well known saying “pride comes before a fall,” these findings suggest that pride may actually be a protective factor against falling in older adults. Future studies may seek to investigate the mechanisms underpinning this relation.

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