• mobility;
  • balance;
  • measurement;
  • frailty;
  • comprehensive geriatric assessment;
  • clinical state variable

OBJECTIVES: To study the test–retest and interrater reliability of the Hierarchical Assessment of Balance and Mobility (HABAM) in frail older adults.

DESIGN: Convenience sample of 167 frail older adults seen as part of routine care by an academic geriatrician at a tertiary care teaching hospital.

SETTING: Inpatient medical and geriatric wards, geriatric ambulatory care clinic, emergency department, home visits.

PARTICIPANTS: The interrater reliability sample consisted of 98 inpatients and 69 outpatients. The test–retest reliability sample tracked 63 of the inpatients over the first 2 days of their hospital stay.

MEASUREMENTS: Mobility and balance were assessed using the HABAM. Frailty was assessed using a frailty index based on a standardized Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment. Reliability was assessed using Pearson correlations and the intraclass correlation coefficients.

RESULTS: The interrater reliability of the HABAM was 0.92 and ranged from 0.88 to 0.96 across settings for the various components (balance, transfers, mobility). Test–retest reliability was 0.91 (range 0.85–0.92).

CONCLUSION: The HABAM appears to be a reliable means of assessing mobility and balance in frail older adults.