Open Access Research article

Prevalence and correlates of dizziness in community-dwelling older people: a cross sectional population based study

Suzana Albuquerque de Moraes1, WuberJeffersondeSouza Soares1, Eduardo Ferriolli2 and Monica Rodrigues Perracini134*

Author Affiliations

1 Physical Therapy Department, City of Sao Paulo University, Sao Paulo, Brazil

2 Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirao Preto, University of Sao Paulo, Ribeirao Preto, Brazil

3 Faculty of Medicine, State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil

4 Visiting Research Fellow at Sydney University and The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Geriatrics 2013, 13:4  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-13-4

Published: 4 January 2013



Dizziness is a common complaint among older adults and has been linked to a wide range of health conditions, psychological and social characteristics in this population. However a profile of dizziness is still uncertain which hampers clinical decision-making. We therefore sought to explore the relationship between dizziness and a comprehensive range of demographic data, diseases, health and geriatric conditions, and geriatric syndromes in a representative sample of community-dwelling older people.


This is a cross-sectional, population-based study derived from FIBRA (Network for the Study of Frailty in Brazilian Elderly Adults), with 391 elderly adults, both men and women, aged 65 years and older. Elderly participants living at home in an urban area were enrolled through a process of random cluster sampling of census regions. The outcome variable was the self-report of dizziness in the last year. Several feelings of dizziness were investigated including vertigo, spinning, light or heavy headedness, floating, fuzziness, giddiness and instability. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to estimate the adjusted odds ratios and build the probability model for dizziness.


The complaint of dizziness was reported by 45% of elderly adults, from which 71.6% were women (p=0.004). The multivariate regression analysis revealed that dizziness is associated with depressive symptoms (OR = 2.08; 95% CI 1.29–3.35), perceived fatigue (OR = 1.93; 95% CI 1.21-3.10), recurring falls (OR = 2.01; 95% CI 1.11-3.62) and excessive drowsiness (OR = 1.91; 95% CI 1.11–3.29). The discrimination of the final model was AUC = 0.673 (95% CI 0.619-0.727) (p< 0.001).


The prevalence of dizziness in community-dwelling elderly adults is substantial. It is associated with other common geriatric conditions usually neglected in elderly adults, such as fatigue and drowsiness, supporting its possible multifactorial manifestation. Our findings demonstrate the need to expand the design in future studies, aiming to estimate risk and identify possible causal relations.

Aged; Depression; Dizziness; Elderly adults; Fatigue; Sleep disorders by excessive drowsiness; Cross sectional study