The development and validation of a brief performance-based fall risk assessment tool for use in primary care

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2010 Aug;65(8):896-903. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glq067. Epub 2010 Jun 3.


Background: To report the development, external validity, reliability, and feasibility of a falls risk assessment tool for use in primary care.

Methods: Two prospective cohort studies, a test-retest reliability study, and a feasibility study were included. Seven hundred and sixty four older community-living people (mean age = 75.3 years, SD = 5.8) participated in the tool development study, 362 people (mean age = 80.25 years, SD = 4.5) participated in the external validation study, 30 older people took part in the test-retest reliability study, and 32 clinicians participated in the feasibility study.

Results: The fall risk assessment score (number of risk factors) displayed a good ability to discriminate between multiple fallers (those who experienced two or more falls) and non-multiple fallers in the external validation study (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve = 0.72, 95% confidence interval = 0.66-0.79). Each of the performance items; low contrast visual acuity, tactile sensitivity, sit to stand, alternate step, and near tandem stand ability; and measures of previous falls and medications could discriminate between prospectively categorized multiple fallers and non-multiple fallers with relative risk values ranging from 1.4 to 2.4 in the development study. The probability of future multiple falls increased from 7% with the identification of zero or one risk factor up to a probability of 49% with the identification of six or more risk factors. The assessment items exhibited moderate to excellent test-retest reliability and a high degree of acceptance by health professionals.

Conclusion: The assessment tool is an externally validated, reliable, and feasible falls risk assessment that can accurately predict multiple falls and assist with guiding interventions in community living older people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care
  • Risk Assessment*
  • Risk Factors