Discriminative and evaluative properties of the activities-specific balance confidence (ABC) scale

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998 Jul;53(4):M287-94. doi: 10.1093/gerona/53a.4.m287.


Background: Balance confidence is an important indicator of functional mobility and independence in older adults. Preliminary psychometric evidence for the Activities-specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale is promising, with a series of four studies adding information on the discriminative and evaluative properties of this tool.

Methods: The original validation sample was reinterviewed one year later. In the second study, the ABC was administered to 475 older adults ranging from home care clients to highly functioning individuals in community exercise programs. The third study compared 31 residents of retirement homes given a 10-week balance control exercise program and fall education with 32 residents who received only fall education. The fourth study examined balance confidence preoperatively and postoperatively for 27 patients undergoing hip or knee replacement.

Results: ABC scores remained stable over 12 months in higher functioning elders, but deteriorated in retirement home residents over 26 weeks. Ten weeks of balance training significantly improved balance confidence, as did hip or knee replacement with standard physical therapy. ABC scores lower than 50 indicated a low level of physical functioning characteristic of home care clients. ABC scores above 50 and lower than 80 indicated a moderate level of functioning characteristic of elders in retirement homes and persons with chronic health conditions. ABC scores above 80 are indicative of highly functioning, usually physically active older adults, and are achievable through exercise and rehabilitative therapies. CONCLUSIONS. Balance confidence is amenable to change and able to distinguish between elders at various levels of functional mobility. These results provide comparative benchmarks for researchers and clinicians working with different groups of older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Psychometrics
  • Regression Analysis