Guidelines for fall prevention in older adults recommend mobility screening for fall risk assessment; however, there is no consensus on which test to use and at what cutoff. This study aimed to determine the accuracy and optimal cut-off values of commonly used mobility tests for predicting falls in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).
Mobility tests at baseline included the Timed Up and Go (TUG), Single Leg Stance (SLS), chair-rise and gait speed. Inclusion criteria were: age ≥ 65 years and meeting first-level fall screening criteria (i.e. history of a fall or mobility problem) at baseline. Accuracy of fall prediction at 18-months for each test was measured by the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC).
Of 1,121 participants that met inclusion criteria (mean age 75.2 ± 5.9 years; 66.6% women), 218 (19.4%) reported ≥one fall at 18 months. None of the tests achieved acceptable accuracy for identifying individuals with ≥one fall at follow-up. Among women 65–74 and 75–85 years, the TUG identified recurrent fallers (≥two falls) with optimal cut-off scores of 14.1 and 12.9 s (both AUCs 0.70), respectively. Among men 65–74 years, only the SLS showed acceptable accuracy (AUC 0.85) for identifying recurrent fallers with an optimal cutoff of 3.6 s.
Our findings indicate that commonly used mobility tests do not have sufficient discriminability to identify fallers in a population-based sample of community-dwelling older adults. The TUG and SLS can identify recurrent fallers; however, their accuracy and cut-off values vary by age and sex.