Subjective Scale Is a Better Predictor of Fear of Falling tha ...

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Older adults experience an elevated fear of falling (FOF), a phenomenon which has been associated with reduced physical function (PF). PF may be assessed subjectively with a rating scale or objectively with some physical performance tests. It is, however, not known if a subjective PF measure predicts the presence of FOF better than an objective measure. This study examined how well the objective and subjective PF measures correlate with and predict FOF in a Nigerian older adult sample. One hundred and eighty volunteering elderly individuals (mean age = 72.1± 7.0 years) recruited from six selected communities in Anambra State, Nigeria, participated in this study. The PF domain of the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire (SF-PF) and the Physical Performance Test (PPT) were used for evaluating subjective and objective PF, respectively. FOF was assessed with the Fall Efficacy scale (FES). FOF prevalence rate was 34.4%. Mean PPT and SF-PF scores were 18.26± 4.82 and 51.03± 28.01, respectively, with 18.3% ranking as poor performers on the PPT scale and 64.4% as being dependent in function on the SF-PF scale. Significant relationships exist between participants’ FOF rank and their PPT scores (r=0.359, p =0.00) and SF-PF scores (r=0.373, p=0.00), respectively. The SF-PF and PPT scores would respectively account for 14.2% and 5.2% of the variance in predicting an individual likely to have FOF. Scores on the PPT and SF-PF both significantly correlated with participants’ FOF. The finding that the subjective scale is a better predictor of an individual with presence of FOF is important for clinicians for routine community screening especially those in resource-poor countries.