Validation of a fall-risk screening test, the Elderly Fall Screening Test (EFST), for community-dwelling elderly

Disabil Rehabil. 1998 May;20(5):161-7. doi: 10.3109/09638289809166077.


Falls are the most common type of injury among the elderly, and the source of both functional and psychological morbidity. The aim of this study was to validate the Elderly Fall Screening Test (EFST). In a community primary-care clinic, the members 60 years or older who were functionally independent were screened. Of the 568 elderly persons who met these criteria, 361 were interviewed once and 283 persons were re-interviewed a year later. The EFST, a five-item test, was used to divide participants into low- and high-risk groups. Concurrent criterion validity was assessed by physical examinations conducted by physicians who were blind as to the risk designation. Using data from the follow-up interview, predictive validity was assessed on both fall-related and general health measures. Based on the results of the EFST, 28% of the respondents were designated as being at high risk for falls (i.e. having a score of two or more risk items). The results of physicians' examinations corroborated the screening test results in 75% of the cases, with 83% sensitivity and 69% specificity. In the follow-up interview, the high-risk group, as compared to the low-risk group, was more likely to have high scores on EFST, a fall in the past month or year, frequent near falls, and an injurious fall. Those with high EFST scores were more likely to report four or more sick days in the past six months, a hospitalization in the past year, poor self-rated health, a decline in health in the past 6 months, and symptoms of depression. The EFST has both criterion and predictive validity. It can be useful in community-based prevention programmes with functionally independent elderly people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls* / statistics & numerical data
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors