Falls and Nursing Home Residents With Cognitive Impairment: New Insights into Quality Measures and Interventions

Arif Nazir, Christine Mueller, Anthony Perkins, Greg Arling

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33 Scopus citations


Objectives: Prevention and public reporting of falls have suffered due to inadequate attention given to the association of falls and cognitive impairment (CI) among nursing home (NH) residents. This study examines the relationship between CI, residence on dementia special care units (SCUs) and other resident characteristics and likelihood of residents experiencing new falls in NHs. Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting and Participants: A total of 21,587 residents from 381 Minnesota NHs. Measurements: The NH Minimum Data Set (MDS) for 21,587 residents from 381 Minnesota NHs in the first calendar quarter of 2008 were analyzed. New falls, (fall noted on a current MDS assessment but not on a prior assessment); cognitive status, (as defined by Cognitive Performance Scale); residence on an SCU, and health and functional status covariates were recorded. A random effects logistic regression model was used to examine relationships between new falls and the resident's cognitive status, type of unit, and covariates. Results: The likelihood of a new fall had a nonlinear association with CI. Compared with residents with normal or mild CI, the likelihood of a new fall was significantly higher among residents with moderate CI (OR = 1.43). The risk decreased slightly (OR = 1.34) for residents with more advanced CI, whereas the presence of severe CI was not significantly associated with new falls. Overall the likelihood of new falls was significantly higher for residents on SCUs compared with those on conventional units (OR = 1.27). Conclusions: Severity of CI and residence on SCU impact fall incidence and should be accounted for in future fall- prevention interventions and quality-reporting indicators and measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819.e1-819.e6
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A.N. received support from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the form of a Geriatric Academic Career Award. Grant # 1K01HP20517 . C.M. and G.A. received funding from the Alzheimer’s Association that supported the research for this paper. The funding sources had no impact on the study design, carrying out of the study, interpretation of results, or the conclusions of this project.


  • Dementia special care units
  • Nursing homes
  • Quality improvement
  • Scorecards


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