Fear of Moving Outdoors and Development of Outdoor Walking Difficulty in Older People
Article first published online: 2 APR 2009
© 2009, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2009, The American Geriatrics Society
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 57, Issue 4, pages 634–640, April 2009
How to Cite
Rantakokko, M., Mänty, M., Iwarsson, S., Törmäkangas, T., Leinonen, R., Heikkinen, E. and Rantanen, T. (2009), Fear of Moving Outdoors and Development of Outdoor Walking Difficulty in Older People. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57: 634–640. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02180.x
- Issue published online: 2 APR 2009
- Article first published online: 2 APR 2009
- fear of moving outdoors;
- walking difficulty;
OBJECTIVES: To study which individual characteristics and environmental factors correlate with fear of moving outdoors and whether fear of moving outdoors predicts development of mobility limitation.
DESIGN: Observational prospective cohort study and cross-sectional analyses.
SETTING: Community and research center.
PARTICIPANTS: Seven hundred twenty-seven community-living people aged 75 to 81 were interviewed at baseline, of whom 314 took part in a 3.5-year follow-up.
MEASUREMENTS: Fear of moving outdoors and its potential individual and environmental correlates were assessed at baseline. Perceived difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km were assessed twice a year over a 3.5-year period.
RESULTS: At baseline, 65% of the women and 29% of the men reported fear of moving outdoors. Poor socioeconomic status; musculoskeletal diseases; slow walking speed; and the presence of poor street conditions, hills in the nearby environment, and noisy traffic correlated with fear of moving outdoors. At the first 6-month follow-up, participants with fear of moving outdoors had more than four times the adjusted risk (odds ratio (OR)=4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.92–11.00) of developing difficulties in walking 0.5 km and a three times greater adjusted risk (OR=3.10, 95% CI=1.49–6.46) for developing difficulty in walking 2 km compared with those without fear. The difference in the prevalence of walking difficulties remained statistically significant over the 3.5-year follow-up (P=.02 and P=.009, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Fear of moving outdoors is common in older adults and increases the risk of developing self-reported difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km. Knowledge about individual and environmental factors underlying fear of moving outdoors and finding ways to alleviate fear of moving outdoors are important for community planning and prevention of disability.