Background: Two simple balance scales comprising three or four familiar tests of static balance were developed, and their validity and reliability are described. The scales were such that the relative difficulties of the basic tests were taken into consideration.
Methods: Using FICSIT data, Fisher's method was used to construct scales combining ability to maintain balance in parallel, semi-tandem, tandem, and one-legged stances. Reliability was inferred from the stability of the measure over 3-4 months. Construct validity was assessed by cross-sectional correlations.
Results: Test-retest reliability (over 3-4 months) was good (r = .66). Validity of the FICSIT-3 scale was suggested by its low correlation with age, its moderate to high correlations with physical function measures, and three balance assessment systems. The FICSIT-4 scale discriminated balance over a wide range of health status; the three-test scale had a substantial ceiling effect in community samples.
Conclusion: A balance scale was developed that appears to have acceptable reliability, validity, and discriminant ability.