Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of a task-oriented walking intervention in improving balance self-efficacy in persons with stroke and to determine whether effects were task-specific, influenced by baseline level of self-efficacy and associated with changes in walking and balance capacity.
Design: Secondary analysis of a two-center, observer-blinded, randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: General community.
Participants: Ninety-one individuals with a residual walking deficit within 1 year of a first or recurrent stroke.
Intervention: Task-oriented interventions targeting walking or upper extremity (UE) function were provided three times a week for 6 weeks.
Measurements: Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale, Six-Minute Walk Test, 5-m walk, Berg Balance Scale, and Timed "Up and Go" administered at baseline and postintervention.
Results: The walking intervention was associated with a significantly greater average proportional change in balance self-efficacy than the UE intervention. Treatment effects were largest in persons with low self-efficacy at baseline and for activities relating to tasks practiced. In the walking group, change in balance self-efficacy correlated with change in functional walking capacity (correlation coefficient=0.45, 95% confidence interval=0.16-0.68). Results of multivariable modeling suggested effect modification by the baseline level of depressive symptoms and a prognostic influence of age, sex, comorbidity, time poststroke, and functional mobility on change in self-efficacy.
Conclusion: Task-oriented walking retraining enhances balance self-efficacy in community-dwelling individuals with chronic stroke. Benefits may be partially the result of improvement in walking capacity. The influence of baseline level of self-efficacy, depressive symptoms, and prognostic variables on treatment effects are of clinical importance and must be verified in future studies.