Developing Meaningful Fear of Falling Measures for Community Dwelling Elderly

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The objective of this study is to demonstrate how a Rasch analytic approach can be used to create fear of falling measures that remain connected to the meaningful descriptions provided by the instrument items.


The University of Illinois at Chicago Fear of Falling Measure was developed using focus groups and consists of 19 common activities designed to represent an increasing level of concern about falling among older adults.


Rasch analysis of responses from 106 community dwelling elderly revealed that the two middle rating scale categories (a little worried and moderately worried) were not being used in the expected fashion. After modification of the rating scale, Rasch analysis showed that the three items causing the least worry (get dressed, get on/off toilet, and get in/out of bed) were statistically erratic.


Final analysis demonstrated that the remaining 16 items represented a unidimensional construct that, in general, supported the original expected item difficulty hierarchy. Because person and item measures were calibrated on the same linear scale person measures are translatable to item descriptions. This connection provides meaning to the numeric values obtained from the instrument and provides a basis for setting clinically relevant criteria for interventions.

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