This study examined relationships among physical activity patterns, self-efficacy, balance, and fear of falling in older adults. Fifty-eight older adults (52-85 years) completed measures of physical activity, self-efficacy, and fear of falling. Subjects then performed the items found in the Berg Balance Scale (Berg, Wood-Dauphinee, Williams, & Maki, 1992). More physically active adults were less fearful of falling, had better balance, and had stronger perceptions of efficacy. Those with better balance were less fearful of falling, and females were more fearful than males. Balance and self-efficacy had significant independent effects on fear, whereas the contribution of history of physical activity was nonsignificant. The findings suggest that behavioral, social cognitive, and biological factors may be important correlates of fear of falling. Further support is provided for the utility of self-efficacy measures in the prediction of fear of falling, although reliance on any one measure to assess this construct may underestimate the role of self-efficacy.
All authors were with the Department of Kinesiology, University Illinois, 215 Freer Hall, Urbana, IL 61801, at the time of submission, Shannon Mihalko is now with the Department of Kinesiology, The Pennsylvania State University.