A Propensity Score Matched Approach to Assess the Associations of Commonly Prescribed Medications with Fall Risk in a Large Harmonized Cohort of Older Ambulatory Persons
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Introduction: Several medication classes are considered to present risk factors for falls. However, the evidence is mainly based on observational studies that often lack adequate adjustment for confounders. Therefore, we aimed to assess the associations of medication classes with fall risk by carefully selecting confounders and by applying propensity score matching (PSM). Methods: Data from several European cohorts, harmonized into the ADFICE_IT cohort, was used. Our primary outcome was time until the first fall within 1-year follow-up. The secondary outcome was a fall in the past year. Our exposure variables were commonly prescribed medications. We used 1:1 PSM to match the participants with reported intake of specific medication classes with participants without. We constructed Cox regression models stratified by the pairs matched on the propensity score for our primary outcome and conditional logistic regression models for our secondary outcome. Results: In total, 32.6% of participants fell in the 1-year follow-up and 24.4% reported falling in the past year. ACE inhibitor users (prevalence of use 15.3%) had a lower fall risk during follow-up when matched to non-users, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.82 (95% CI 0.68–0.98). Also, statin users (prevalence of use 20.1%) had a lower risk, with an HR of 0.76 (95% CI 0.65–0.90). Other medication classes showed no association with risk of first fall. Also, in our secondary outcome analyses, statin users had a significantly lower risk. Furthermore, β-blocker users had a lower fall risk and proton pump inhibitor use was associated with a higher risk in our secondary outcome analysis. Conclusion: Many commonly prescribed medication classes showed no associations with fall risk in a relatively healthy population of community-dwelling older persons. However, the treatment effects and risks can be heterogeneous between individuals. Therefore, focusing on identification of individuals at risk is warranted to optimize personalized falls prevention.