Original Study| Volume 21, ISSUE 9, P1295-1301.e2, September 2020

A Single Question as a Screening Tool to Assess Fear of Falling in Young-Old Community-Dwelling Persons



      Fear of falling (FOF) is common in older persons and related to negative outcomes. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between 2 FOF measures: the Falls Efficacy Scale-International (FES-I) and the single question on FOF and activity restriction (SQ-FAR). Factors associated with disagreement between the 2 measures were further examined.


      Cross-sectional study.

      Setting and Participants

      Participants (N = 1359) were community-dwelling persons aged 65 to 70 years who were enrolled in the Lausanne cohort 65+.


      Data included demographic, functional, cognitive, affective, and health status. FOF was measured with FES-I and the 3-level SQ-FAR (no FOF, FOF without activity restriction (AR, FOF with AR). FES-I concern about falling was categorized as low (score 16–19), moderate (score 20–27), and high (score 28–64).


      Weighted agreement between the FES-I and the SQ-FAR was 87.8% (Kappa = 0.57). Using the FES-I as gold standard, the performance of SQ-FAR was good (specificity 86%; sensitivity 74%, negative predicting value 89%, positive predicting value 69%). Among participants with moderate/high FOF according to FES-I, male sex (P = .011) and the absence of previous falls (P < .001) were associated with disagreement between the 2 tools. Among participants with low FOF, female sex (P = .005), falls history (P < .001), and pre-frailty/frailty status (P = .050) were associated with disagreement.

      Conclusions and Implications

      The SQ-FAR has a moderate agreement with FES-I and might be used as a screening tool. The results also may help design a step-by-step strategy to evaluate and address FOF in the clinical setting.


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