To describe the longitudinal associations between physiological falls risk, and between-person and within-person effects of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), physical activity (PA), knee pain and dysfunction in community-dwelling older people.Methods
Data for 1053 participants (51% women; mean age 63 ± 7.4 years) studied at baseline, 2.5, 5, and 10 years were analysed. Falls risk (Z-score) was measured using the Physiological Profile Assessment. Knee pain and dysfunction were assessed using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index (WOMAC). Moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) was measured using accelerometer. Linear mixed-effect regression models, with adjustment for confounders, were used to estimate the association between physiological falls risk and between-person and within-person effects of PA, 25OHD and WOMAC score.Results
Between-person effects showed that 10-year average physiological falls risk was lower in participants who had a higher 10-year average 25OHD (β = −0.005 per nmol/l, 95% CI: −0.008, −0.002), log-MVPA (β = −0.16 per minute, 95% CI: −0.22, −0.10) and lower mean WOMAC score (β = 0.005 per-unit score, 95% CI: 0.003, 0.01). Within-person effects showed that a higher physiological falls risk at any time-point was associated with higher than average WOMAC score (β = 0.002 per-unit score, 95% CI: 0.0003, 0.004) and lower than average log-MVPA (β = −0.15 per minute, 95% CI: −0.24, −0.06), but not 25OHD, at the same time-point.Conclusion
Having higher WOMAC global score above an individual's average increases the risk of falling, whereas, increasing one's own MVPA level further reduces their risk of falling. The presence of between-person but not within-person associations for 25OHD suggests the former may be confounded by other factors.