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Physical function measurements predict mortality in ambulatory older men


Correspondence to: Stefanie De Buyser and Mirko Petrovic, Department of Geriatrics, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. Tel.: +32 9 332 21 30; Fax: +32 9 332 38 17; e-mail:;



To assess and compare the predictive value of physical function measurements (PFMs) for all-cause mortality in older men and to evaluate the Timed Up and Go test (TUG) as a predictor in subjects with underlying comorbidity.


Observational study of a population-based sample of 352 ambulatory older men aged 71–86 at study baseline. The Rapid disability rating scale-2, 36-Item short form health survey, Grip strength, Five times sit-to-stand test, Standing balance, and TUG were determined at baseline. Associations with all-cause mortality were assessed using Cox proportional hazard analyses. Age, Body mass index (BMI), smoking status, education, physical activity and cognitive status were included as confounders. Follow-up exceeded 15 years. Comorbidity status was categorized into cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes mellitus.


All examined PFMs were associated with all-cause mortality. TUG was the best predictor (adjusted HR per SD increase = 1·58, 95% CI = 1·40–1·79, P < 0·001) for global mortality and continued to be predictive in subjects with cardiovascular disease (adjusted HR per SD increase = 1·80, 95% CI = 1·40–2·33, P < 0·001).


The assessment of physical functioning is important in the evaluation of older persons. We encourage the use of the TUG as a reliable, quick and feasible screening tool in clinical settings.