Fear-related avoidance of activities, falls and physical frailty. A prospective community-based cohort study

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Abstract

Objective

to investigate the relationship between fear-related avoidance of activities and physical frailty.

Subjects and methods

fear-related avoidance of activities, physical performance, maximal isometric muscle strength and postural control were assessed in 225 community-living elderly (94 men and 131 women), aged between 61 and 92 years of age.

Results

bivariate analyses revealed significant correlations between avoidance of activities on the one hand, and physical performance, muscle strength, forward endpoint excursion of the centre of gravity, and previous falls on the other hand. Logistic regression analysis revealed that fear of falling and avoidance of activities in daily life were predictive of falls within a 1-year follow-up, together with general fear of falling, old age and being female.

Conclusions

fear-related avoidance of activities may have negative effects on physical abilities and may also be predictive for future falls. Avoidance of activities is therefore an important additional psychological variable in the development of physical frailty and falling in community-living elderly.

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