Sensorimotor and psychosocial determinants of 3-year incident mobility disability in middle-aged and older adults

Age Ageing. 2014 Jan;43(1):64-9. doi: 10.1093/ageing/aft135. Epub 2013 Sep 15.


Objective: to identify sensorimotor and psychosocial determinants of 3-year incident mobility disability.

Design: prospective.

Setting: population-based sample of community-dwelling older persons.

Participants: community-living middle-aged and older persons (age: 50-85 years) without baseline mobility disability (n = 622).

Measurements: mobility disability, defined as self-reported inability to walk a quarter mile without resting or inability to walk up a flight of stairs unsupported, was ascertained at baseline and 3-year follow-up. Potential baseline determinant characteristics included demographics, education, social support, financial condition, knee extensor strength, visual contrast sensitivity, cognition, depression, presence of chronic conditions and history of falls.

Results: a total of 13.5% participant reported 3-year incident mobility disability. Age ≥75 years, female sex, knee extensor strength in the lowest quartile, visual contrast sensitivity <1.7 on the Pelli-Robson chart or significant depressive symptoms (CESD score >16) were independent determinants of 3-year incident mobility disability (ORs 1.84-16.51).

Conclusions: low visual contrast sensitivity, poor knee extensor strength and significant depressive symptoms are independent determinants of future onset of mobility disability.

Keywords: depression; disability; mobility; muscle strength; older people; vision.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Contrast Sensitivity*
  • Dependent Ambulation
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Knee
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Time Factors
  • Walking