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<label>BACKGROUND</label>Prospective, monthly diaries are recommended for collecting falls data but are burdensome and expensive.<label>OBJECTIVE</label>To compare characteristics of fallers and estimates of fall rates by method of data collection.<label>DESIGN</label>and Setting: A methodology study nested within a large cluster RCT. We randomised 9803 older adults from 63 general practices across England to receive one of three fall prevention interventions. Participants provided a retrospective report of falls in postal questionnaires mailed every four months. A separate randomisation allocated participants to receive prospective monthly falls diaries for one simultaneous four month period.<label>RESULTS</label>Falls diaries were returned by 7762/9375 (83%); of which 6306/9375 (67%) participants reported the same number of falls on both data sources. Diary non-responders were older and had poorer levels of physical and mental health. Analysis of time-points where both data sources were available showed the falls rate on diaries was consistently higher than on the questionnaire (mean rate: 0.16 v 0.12 falls per person month observation). Diary allocation was associated with a higher rate of withdrawal from the main trial.<label>CONCLUSIONS</label>Diary completion was associated with sample attrition. We found on average a 32% difference in falls rates between the two data sources. Retrospective and prospective falls data are not consistently reported when collected simultaneously.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Clinical Epidemiology



Publication Date



Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK. Electronic address:


PreFIT Study Group