Psychological, physical, and sensory correlates of fear of falling and consequent activity restriction in the elderly: The InCHIANTI study

Nandini Deshpande, E. Jeffrey Metter, Stefania Bandinelli, Fulvio Lauretani, B. Gwen Windham, Luigi Ferrucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To identify psychological, physical, and sensory function parameters that are specifically associated with fear of falling (FF) and fear-induced activity restriction in a population-based sample of older adults. DESIGN: FF, fear-induced activity restriction, cognition, depression, personal mastery, chair-stand performance, standing balance, lower-limb and grip strength, visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, and vibrotactile sensitivity were evaluated in the population-based, older cohort (n = 926, age ≥ 65) enrolled in the InCHIANTI study. RESULTS: Nearly 50% participants reported FF. Of these, 65% reported some activity restriction. Personal mastery (P <0.001) and chair-standing performance (P = 0.001) were independently associated with FF. In those who did not have depression, personal mastery, standing balance, lower-limb strength, and visual contrast sensitivity were associated with activity restriction (P <0.001-0.011). In those who were depressed, total FF was the major factor strongly associated with activity restriction (P <0.001), with marginal but significant associations for cognition (P = 0.027) and standing balance (P = 0.015). CONCLUSION: Psychological and physical factors are independently associated with FF. Presence of depression possibly modulates which factors, in addition to fear of falling, affect fear-induced activity restriction. A longitudinal study is warranted to substantiate causal relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-362
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity Restriction
  • Aging
  • Fear of Falling
  • Personal Mastery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Medicine(all)


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