A comparison of four functional tests in discriminating fallers from non-fallers in older people

Disabil Rehabil. 2003 Jan 7;25(1):45-50.


Purpose: Which functional tests on mobility and balance can better screen older people at risk of falls is unclear. This study aims to compare the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Tinetti Mobility Score (TMS), Elderly Mobility Scale (EMS) and Timed Up and Go test (TUG) in discriminating fallers from non-fallers in older people.

Method: This was a case-control study involving one rater who conducted a mobility and balance assessment on subjects using the four functional tests in random sequence. Subjects recruited included 17 and 22 older people with a history of single and multiple falls respectively from a public Falls Clinic, and 39 community-dwellers without fall history and whose age, sex and BMI matched those of the fallers. All subjects underwent the mobility and balance assessment within one day.

Results: Single fallers performed better than multiple fallers in all four functional tests but were worse than non-fallers in the BBS, TMS and TUG. The BBS demonstrated the best discriminating ability, with high sensitivity and specificity. The BBS item 'pick up an object from the floor' was the best at screening fallers.

Conclusion: BBS was the most powerful functional test of the four in discriminating fallers from non-faller.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Task Performance and Analysis