Fall-related injuries contribute to increased frailty, disability, and premature death in older adults (≥65 years). The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began reimbursing annual wellness visits (AWVs) in 2011. In the present study, we assessed the effect of AWV receipt in 2017 on fall and fracture prevention through December 31, 2018. Using Texas Medicare data for 2014–2018, we identified cohorts of Medicare beneficiaries ≥68 years, matched for the presence/absence of an AWV in 2017 by propensity score, and observed two outcomes: fracture as a primary diagnosis, and fall occurrences. Rates of each outcome were estimated using the Kaplan–Meier method. Of the 2017 beneficiaries, 32.2% received an AWV. For the 742,494 beneficiaries in the matched cohort, conditional Cox proportional hazards models revealed that receiving an AWV in 2017 was associated with reduced risks for future falls (3.9%) and fractures (4%). The effect of the AWV was stronger on fall reduction in rural residents (HR: 0.799; 95% CI: 0.679 to 0.941) and on fracture reduction in beneficiaries with ≥4 morbidities (HR: 0.918; 95% CI: 0.867 to 0.972). Receipt of an AWV in three consecutive years (2015–2017) further lowered the risk of future falls. We conclude that the risks for future falls/fractures are lower in older adults receiving AWVs. Our study underscores the need for expanded public education programs that raise awareness about AWVs and the potential for AWV data to inform fall prevention interventions and other health promotion practices.
- Accidental falls
- Fractures, bone
- Frail older adults
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health