Background: Recently, a new tool for assessing dynamic balance impairments has been presented: the 14-item Mini-BESTest.
Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the psychometric performance of the Mini-BESTest and the Berg Balance Scale (BBS).
Design: A prospective, single-group, observational design was used in the study.
Methods: Ninety-three participants (mean age=66.2 years, SD=13.2; 53 women, 40 men) with balance deficits were recruited. Interrater (3 raters) and test-retest (1-3 days) reliability were calculated using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Responsiveness and minimal important change were assessed (after 10 sessions of physical therapy) using both distribution-based and anchor-based methods (external criterion: the 15-point Global Rating of Change [GRC] scale).
Results: At baseline, neither floor effects nor ceiling effects were found in either the Mini-BESTest or the BBS. After treatment, the maximum score was found in 12 participants (12.9%) with BBS and in 2 participants (2.1%) with Mini-BESTest. Test-retest reliability for total scores was significantly higher for the Mini-BESTest (ICC=.96) than for the BBS (ICC=.92), whereas interrater reliability was similar (ICC=.98 versus .97, respectively). The standard error of measurement (SEM) was 1.26 and the minimum detectable change at the 95% confidence level (MDC(95)) was 3.5 points for Mini-BESTest, whereas the SEM was 2.18 and the MDC(95) was 6.2 points for the BBS. In receiver operating characteristic curves, the area under the curve was 0.92 for the Mini-BESTest and 0.91 for the BBS. The best minimal important change (MIC) was 4 points for the Mini-BESTest and 7 points for the BBS. After treatment, 38 participants evaluated with the Mini-BESTest and only 23 participants evaluated with the BBS (out of the 40 participants who had a GRC score of ≥ 3.5) showed a score change equal to or greater than the MIC values.
Limitations: The consecutive sampling method drawn from a single rehabilitation facility and the intrinsic weakness of the GRC for calculating MIC values were limitations of the study.
Conclusions: The 2 scales behave similarly, but the Mini-BESTest appears to have a lower ceiling effect, slightly higher reliability levels, and greater accuracy in classifying individual patients who show significant improvement in balance function.