This study assessed changes in balance self-efficacy (BSE) over 1 year in community-dwelling elderly, compared changes in BSE between fallers and nonfallers, and assessed the relationship between specific balance and mobility risk factors for side falls and BSE scores. Elderly fallers (n = 67; 80.2 ± 5.9 years) and nonfallers (n = 75; 79.4 ± 4.9), categorized based on self-reported falls over 1 year, were tested at baseline on postural sway, hip-abduction strength, lateral-stepping velocity, tandem walk, and get-up-and-go and given a BSE questionnaire. Fallers had lower BSE scores than nonfallers did (141.6 ± 33.5 and 154.9 ± 25.4; p = .008). BSE did not change over 1 year. In stepwise regression, BSE scores were predictive of time on the get-up-and-go, mediolateral sway, and tandem walk independent of age, height, and strength (p < .001). The BSE scale might be useful for screening individuals at risk for injurious falls because it is inexpensive and noninvasive.
Gunter, White, Hayes, and Snow are with the Bone Research Laboratory, Dept. of Exercise and Sport Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331. De Costa and Hooker are with the Dept. of Human Development and Family Sciences at the university.