1. Blackwood, Jennifer PT, PhD


Background and Purpose: In rural communities, perceptions of neighborhood walkability, the rating of how easy it is to walk in an area, influence engagement in physical activity outside the home. This has not been studied in older adults residing in urban settings. Additionally, it is not known how perceived walkability is associated with falls. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to first describe the perceptions of neighborhood walkability in urban-dwelling older adults based on recent fall history and then examine associations between recent falls and neighborhood walkability constructs after controlling for fall risk factors.


Methods: Urban-dwelling older adults (N = 132) 65 years and older without cognitive dysfunction or uncontrolled comorbidity completed a survey assessing health status, physical activity, and walkability using the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale-Abbreviated. Group assignment was based on recent fall history. Between-group comparisons of demographic and walkability constructs were completed using analysis of variance. Logistic regression was used to examine associations between walkability constructs and recent falls after controlling for covariates.


Results and Discussion: Poorer perception of land use was significantly associated with recent falls. Questions assessing the ease of walking to a store or transit stop may be valuable in understanding fall risk in older adults living in urban settings.


Conclusions: Perceptions of neighborhood walkability are lower in urban-dwelling older adults with a history of falling.