• self-efficacy;
  • fear of falling;
  • inpatient rehabilitation;
  • patterns of change

OBJECTIVES: To examine the effects of various risk factors on three functional outcomes during rehabilitation.

SETTING: Geriatric inpatient rehabilitation unit.

DESIGN: Observational longitudinal study.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred sixty-one geriatric rehabilitation inpatients (men, women), mean age 82, who were capable of walking at baseline.

MEASUREMENTS: Functional status was assessed weekly between admission and discharge and at a follow-up 4 months later at home using the function component of the Short Form—Late Life Function and Disability Instrument, the Barthel Index, and Habitual Gait Speed. Various risk factors, such as falls-related self-efficacy (Falls Efficacy Scale–International), were measured. Associations between predictors and functional status at discharge and follow-up were analyzed using linear regression models and bivariate plots.

RESULTS: Fear of falling predicted functioning across all outcomes except for habitual gait speed at discharge and follow-up. Visual comparison of functional trajectories between subgroups confirmed these findings, with different levels of fear of falling across time in linear plots. Thus, superior ability of this measure to discriminate between functional status at baseline across all outcomes and to discriminate between functional change especially with regard to the performance-based outcome was demonstrated.

CONCLUSION: Falls-related self-efficacy is the only parameter that significantly predicts rehabilitation outcome at discharge and follow-up across all outcomes. Therefore, it should be routinely assessed in future studies in (geriatric) rehabilitation and considered to be an important treatment goal.