Objectives: To compare the practicality, reliability, validity, and responsiveness of the timed up and go (TUG), one-leg stand (OLS), functional reach (FR), and Tinetti balance (TB) performance measures in people aged 65 and older.
Design: A prospective study.
Setting: Shin-Sher Township of Taichung County, west-central Taiwan.
Participants: Twelve hundred community-dwelling older people.
Measurements: During an initial assessment at their residences, participants were interviewed for demographics, cognition, fall history, use of a walking aid, and activities of daily living (ADLs), in addition to completing the four balance tests. Falls were ascertained by telephone every 3 months for a 1-year follow-up; the four balance measures and ADLs were also reassessed at the end of the follow-up year.
Results: Of the four balance measures, the OLS had the lowest participation rate, and participation of people who were cognitively impaired had fallen in the previous year, used a walking aid, or suffered from an ADL disability was lower than for their counterparts. The time to complete the tests ranged from 58 seconds for OLS, to 160 seconds for the TB. All four balance measures exhibited excellent test-retest reliability and discriminant validity but poor responsiveness to fall status. The TB showed better discriminant, convergent, and predictive validities and responsiveness to ADL changes than the other three tests.
Conclusion: According to psychometric properties, the most suitable performance measure for evaluating balance in community-dwelling older people was the TB, followed by the TUG.