1. Roberts, Holly J. PT, PhD


Background and Purpose: Fear of falling (FoF) is highly prevalent in community-dwelling older adults and is associated with low health-related quality of life (QoL). Low QoL is associated with increased health care utilization and is a predictor of future falls, but few studies have examined the relationship between high-level balance and dynamic gait performance and QoL in community-dwelling older adults. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine whether there is a relationship between FoF avoidance behaviors, balance confidence, performance on measures of high-level mobility, and QoL in community-dwelling older adults. The secondary purpose was to determine whether older adults who fall have a different QoL than older adults who have not fallen in the past year.


Methods: Eighty-nine community-dwelling older adults (76.33 +/- 6.84 years, 54 female, 34 fallers) completed the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF), Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC), Fear of Falling Avoidance Behavior Questionnaire (FFABQ), Functional Gait Assessment (FGA), and Community Balance and Mobility Scale (CB&M). Correlation and multiple regression analyses were calculated to determine the relationship between the outcome measures and domains on the WHOQOL-BREF.


Results and Discussion: Significant correlations were observed between the WHOQOL-BREF physical health domain and the ABC, FFABQ, FGA, and CB&M ([rho]= 0.524, -0.509, 0.348, and r = 0.423, respectively), the WHOQOL-BREF psychological domain and the ABC ([rho]= 0.284) and FFABQ ([rho]=-0.384), and the WHOQOL-BREF environment domain and the ABC ([rho]= 0.343) and FFABQ ([rho]=-0.406). No correlations were found between WHOQOL-BREF domain scores and a history of falls.


Conclusions: Performance-based outcome measures that measure high-level mobility such as the CB&M and FGA, and patient-reported outcome measures for balance confidence and FoF avoidance behavior such as the ABC and FFABQ, are correlated with the physical health QoL domain on the WHOQOL-BREF. The ABC and FFABQ are correlated with psychological and environment QoL. Fall history was not correlated with QoL. Interventions to decrease FoF or improve high-level mobility may improve QoL in community-dwelling older adults.