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ENT-VSL-15.1 Data Details

ENT-VSL-15.1 Reduce the proportion of adults with balance and dizziness problems who have fallen in the past 5 years while experiencing symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance

About the Data

Description of the data source, numerator, denominator, survey questions, and other relevant details about the national estimate.

National Data Source
National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (CDC/NCHS)
Changed Since the Healthy People 2020 Launch
percent (age adjusted—see Comments)
Baseline (Year)
55.6 (2008)
Target-Setting Method
10 percent improvement
Number of persons aged 18 years and over with dizziness or balance problems in the past 12 months who have fallen in the past 5 years while having dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance just before or around the time they fell
Number of adults (18+ years) with dizziness or balance problems in the past 12 months who have fallen in the past 5 years
Questions Used to Obtain the National Baseline Data

From the 2008 National Health Interview Survey, Balance and Dizziness Supplement:


DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, have you had a problem with dizziness or balance? Do not include times when drinking alcohol.

  1. Yes
  2. No

This next question is about symptoms of dizziness or balance problems. Please tell me if you have had any of these problems in the past 12 months. Please say yes or no to each.

  • A spinning or vertigo sensation, a rocking of yourself or your surroundings
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • A floating, spacey, or tilting sensation
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • Feeling lightheaded, without a sense of motion
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • Feeling as if you are going to pass out or faint
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • Blurring of your vision when you move your head
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • Feeling off-balance or unsteady
    1. Yes
    2. No

DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, which ONE of these feelings of dizziness or balance problems bothered you the most? [Read categories below.]

  1. Feeling a sense of spinning
  2. A floating or spacey feeling
  3. Feeling lightheaded
  4. Feeling like you are about to pass out
  5. Blurred vision
  6. Unsteadiness

These next questions are about falls or falling. By falls or falling, we mean unexpectedly dropping to the floor or ground from a standing, walking or bending position.

DURING THE PAST 5 YEARS, have you fallen at least one time?

  1. Yes
  2. No


DURING THE PAST 5 YEARS, did any of your falls occur just before, or around the time.... Please say yes or no to each.

  • you were feeling a sense of spinning?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • you were having a floating or spacey feeling?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • you were feeling lightheaded?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • you were feeling like you are about to pass out?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • you were having blurred vision?
    1. Yes
    2. No
  • you were having unsteadiness?
    1. Yes
    2. No

DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, have you fallen at least once a month on average?

  1. Yes
  2. No

DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, how many times have you fallen?

  1. None
  2. 1 time
  3. 2 times
  4. 3-4 times
  5. 5-7 times
  6. 8 times

DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS, did you have an injury as a result of a fall? For example, with a bruise, cut or wound, sprain, dislocation; fracture, broken bones, back pain, head or neck injury?

  1. Yes
  2. No
Data Collection Frequency
Comparable Healthy People 2010 Objective
Not applicable
Methodology Notes

The percent is calculated by dividing the numerator [“Yes” responses to (a) or (b) AND (d) AND (e) – see questions] by the denominator [“Yes” responses to (a) or (b) AND (d) questions].

Dizziness and loss of balance are among the most common problems bringing patients to their doctor's office. In fact, 40% of adults experience dizziness or imbalance at some point in their life. Left untreated, the results can be debilitating. As people get older, the onset of dizziness and falls from balance problems increases. These falls can lead to injury, hospitalization, surgery and even permanent disability. Dizziness and imbalance should not be accepted as inevitable effects of the aging process.

Dizziness and balance disorders are common and can affect people of any age, gender, race, or socioeconomic group. The symptoms may include whirling dizziness, unsteadiness or imbalance when walking, and nausea. These symptoms may be mild, lasting only minutes, or severe, resulting in total disability. There are between 5 and 8 million physician or other Health Care provider visits for dizziness in the United States each year.

Age Adjustment

This Indicator uses Age-Adjustment Groups:

  • Total: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Sex: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Race/Ethnicity: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Educational Attainment: 25-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Family Income: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Family Type: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Country of Birth: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Disability Status: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Geographic Location: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Health Insurance Status: 18-44, 45-64
  • Marital Status: 18-44, 45-64, 65-74, 75+
Caveats and Limitations
Over 450,000 persons (primarily between the ages of 15-24 years) suffer head injuries annually; 79% of those patients hospitalized for two days or less, with a "completely normal" neurological examination, will experience dizziness within three months. The majority of serious head injury patients will complain of dizziness for up to five years following injury and many are disabled by this symptom. Complaints of dizziness and unsteadiness are frequent problems in accidental and job-related mild head injuries. Every year, one-third to one-half of the population age 65 and over experience falls. Of all falls suffered by the elderly, about 50% are the result of vestibular problems.


Additional resources about the objective.

  1. Gillespie LD, Gillespie WJ, Robertson MC, et al. 2004. Interventions for preventing falls in elderly people (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
  2. Nelson D, Holtzman D, Bolen J, et al. 2001. Reliability and validity of measures from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Int J Public Health. 46, S3-S35.
  3. Rubenstein LZ, Solomon DH, Roth CP, et al. 2004. Detection and management of falls and instability in vulnerable elders by community physicians. J Am Geriatr Soc. 52(9):1527–1531.