To investigate the 6-month functional prognosis of dizziness in older adults in primary care, to identify important predictors of dizziness-related impairment, and to construct a score to assist risk prediction.
Prospective cohort study with 6-month follow-up.
Twenty-four primary care practices in the Netherlands.
Four hundred seventeen older adults (mean age 78.5, range 65–95, 74% female) presenting consecutively to primary care with dizziness.
Tests, including history and physical and additional examination, previously selected by an international expert panel and based on an earlier systematic review, were performed. The main outcome measure was 6-month dizziness-related impairment score measured using the Dizziness Handicap Inventory.
Follow-up was complete for 92% of participants. Although 61% of participants experienced less impairment at 6 months, 130 participants (34%) showed persistent dizziness-related impairment. Factors most predictive of dizziness-related impairment at 6 months were onset of dizziness at least 6 months before inclusion, standing still as a dizziness-provoking circumstance, trouble with walking or (almost) falling (associated symptom), polypharmacy, absence of diabetes mellitus, presence of anxiety or depressive disorder, and impaired functional mobility. A score was constructed using these predictors to estimate the functional prognosis of dizziness at 6 months.
A score based on the presence of easily obtainable clinical information facilitates identification of older adults in primary care with poor functional prognosis of their dizziness without exactly knowing the cause(s) of their dizziness. Clinical management might be most effective by treating factors that can be influenced, such as polypharmacy, anxiety and depression, and functional mobility.