A pilot study to explore the predictive validity of 4 measures of falls risk in frail elderly patients

Janet I Thomas, Judith V Lane
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2005, 86 (8): 1636-40

OBJECTIVES: To test the hypothesis that scores on 4 falls risk measures will differ significantly in patients reporting recurrent falls compared with those who do not; and to explore the validity of each measure to predict such falls status.

DESIGN: A convenience sample was tested to establish the sensitivity and specificity of the Functional Reach Test, Timed Up & Go test, one-leg stance test (OLST), and balance subsection of the Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment (B-POMA). A 12-month retrospective falls history was used to identify recurrent fallers.

SETTING: A day hospital for the elderly.

PARTICIPANTS: Convenience sample of 30 day hospital patients. The inclusion criteria were: ability to rise from a chair and walk 6m; no severe cognitive impairment or blindness; age 65 years or older.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Scores on the 4 tests and retrospective falls histories.

RESULTS: Scores on the B-POMA and OLST showed significant differences between fallers and nonfallers (P<.05). An OLST time of 1.02 seconds or less (odds ratio [OR]=15.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.72-133.95) and B-POMA score of 11 or less (OR=18.5; 95% CI, 2.05-167.79) were predictive of day hospital patients having a history of recurrent falls.

CONCLUSIONS: OLST and B-POMA both have potential as screening tools for risk of falls, but this observation requires confirmation in a prospective study.

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