Background: Fall-related injuries in older adults are a major health problem. Although the aetiology of falls is multifactorial, physical factors are assumed to contribute significantly. The "Timed up and go test" (TUG) is designed to measure basic mobility function. This report evaluates the association between TUG times and history of falls.
Methods: A retrospective, observational, population-based study was conducted on 414 men and 560 women with mean age 77.5 (SD 2.3). TUG time and falls during the previous 12 months were recorded. Covariates were age, sex, medical history and health-related mobility problems. Means, confidence intervals and test characteristics for TUG were calculated. Odds ratios and influence of covariates were examined by logistic regression.
Results: The mean TUG time was 11.1s (SD 2.5) among male non-fallers and 13.0s (SD 7.8) among fallers. The difference was 1.9s (95%CI 0.9-3.0). The odds ratio for fallers being in the upper quartile was 2.1 (95%CI 1.4-3.3). Adjusted for covariates, the odds ratio was (OR = 1.8, 95%CI 1.1-2.9). The corresponding mean was 13.0s (SD 5.74) among female non-fallers and 13.9s (SD 8.5) among fallers. The difference was 0.9 (95%CI -0.3-2.1). The odds ratio for fallers being in upper quartile was 1.0 (95%CI 0.7-1.4). The area under the ROC curve was 0.50 (95%CI 0.45-0.55) in women and 0.56 (95%CI 0.50-0.62) in men.
Conclusion: TUG is statistically associated with a history of falls in men but not in women. The ability to classify fallers is poor, and the clinical value of the association is therefore limited.