Does Personality Influence Risk for Falls in Women?

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Optimistic women may have a lower risk for falls and fractures.
Optimistic women may have a lower risk for falls and fractures.

HealthDay News -- Optimism is associated with a decreased fall risk and cynical hostility with an increased fall risk for women, according to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Jane A. Cauley, DrPH, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues examined whether personality influences fall and fracture risk. The researchers used data from 87 342 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. The risk of falls and fractures was examined across quartiles of optimism and hostility.

The researchers found that women with the highest optimism scores were less likely to report 2 or more falls in the past year (odds ratio [OR], 0.89) in multivariable-adjusted models. Women in the highest quartile for hostility had increased risk of having 2 or more falls (OR, 1.12). 

Higher optimism scores were also associated with a reduced risk of fractures, but this correlation was attenuated after multivariable adjustment. A modestly increased risk of any fracture was seen for women with the greatest hostility (multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio, 1.05), but no correlation was seen for specific fracture sites.

"Optimism was independently associated with a decreased risk of ≥2 falls, and hostility, an increased risk of ≥2 falls, independent of traditional risk factors," the researchers wrote. "The magnitude of the association was similar to aging five years. Whether interventions aimed at attitudes could reduce fall risks remains to be determined."


  1. Cauley JA, Smagula SF, Hovey KM, et al. Optimism, cynical hostility, falls and fractures: the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS). J Bone Miner Res. 2016. doi:10.1002/jbmr.2984.
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