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  1. Huang, Min H. PT, PhD, NCS
  2. Miller, Kara PT, DPT
  3. Smith, Kristin PT, DPT
  4. Fredrickson, Kayle PT, DPT
  5. Shilling, Tracy BS


Background: Cancer is primarily a disease of older adults. About 77% of all cancers are diagnosed in persons aged 55 years and older. Cancer and its treatment can cause diverse sequelae impacting body systems underlying balance control. No study has examined the psychometric properties of balance assessment tools in older cancer survivors, presenting a significant challenge in the selection of outcome measures for clinicians treating this fast-growing population.


Purpose: This study aimed to determine the reliability, validity, and minimal detectable change (MDC) of the Balance Evaluation System Test (BESTest), Mini-Balance Evaluation Systems Test (Mini-BESTest), and Brief-Balance Evaluation Systems Test (Brief-BESTest) in community-dwelling older cancer survivors.


Methods: This study was a cross-sectional design. Twenty breast and 8 prostate cancer survivors participated [age (SD) = 68.4 (8.13) years]. The BESTest and Activity-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale were administered during the first session. Scores of Mini-BESTest and Brief-BESTest were extracted on the basis of the scores of BESTest. The BESTest was repeated within 1 to 2 weeks by the same rater to determine the test-retest reliability. For the analysis of the inter-rater reliability, 21 participants were randomly selected to be evaluated by 2 raters. A primary rater administered the test. The 2 raters independently and concurrently scored the performance of the participants. Each rater recorded the ratings separately on the scoring sheet. No discussion among the raters was allowed throughout the testing. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs), standard error of measurement, minimal detectable change (MDC), and Bland-Altman plots were calculated. Concurrent validity of these balance tests with the ABC Scale was examined using the Spearman correlation.


Results: The BESTest, Mini-BESTest, and Brief-BESTest had high test-retest (ICC = 0.90-0.94) and interrater reliability (ICC = 0.86-0.96), small standard error of measurement (0.86-2.47 points), and MDC (2.39-6.86 points). The Bland-Altman plot revealed no systematic errors. The scores of BESTest, Mini-BEST, and Brief-BEST were correlated significantly with those of ABC Scale (P < .01), supporting their concurrent validity.


Discussion: The BESTest, Mini-BESTest, and Brief-BESTest showed high interrater and test-retest reliability, and excellent concurrent validity with the ABC Scale for community-dwelling cancer survivors aged 55 years and older who had completed cancer treatments for at least 3 months. Future studies are necessary to determine the predictive values for determining fall risks using balance assessment tools in older cancer survivors.


Conclusions: Clinicians can utilize the BESTest and its short versions to evaluate balance problems in community-dwelling older cancer survivors and apply the established MDC to assess the intervention outcomes.