Engineering improved balance confidence in older adults with complex health care needs: learning from the Muscling Up Against Disability Study

Hetherington, Sharon and Henwood, Tim and Swinton, Paul and Keogh, Justin and Gardiner, Paul ORCID: and Tuckett, Anthony and Rouse, Kevin (2018) Engineering improved balance confidence in older adults with complex health care needs: learning from the Muscling Up Against Disability Study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 99 (8). pp. 1525-1532. ISSN 0003-9993


Objective: To investigate the associations of balance confidence with physical and cognitive markers of well-being in older adults receiving government-funded aged care services and whether progressive resistance plus balance training could positively influence change.

Design: Intervention study.

Setting: Community-based older adult–specific exercise clinic.

Participants: Older adults (N=245) with complex care needs who were receiving government-funded aged care support.

Interventions: Twenty-four weeks of twice weekly progressive resistance plus balance training carried out under the supervision of accredited exercise physiologists.

Main Outcome Measures: The primary measure was the Activity-specific Balance Confidence Scale. Secondary measures included the Short Physical Performance Battery; fall history gathered as part of the health history questionnaire; hierarchical timed balance tests; Geriatric Anxiety Index; Geriatric Depression Scale; Fatigue, Resistance, Ambulation, Illness, Loss of Weight scale; and EuroQoL-5 dimension 3 level.

Results: At baseline, better physical performance (r=.54; P<.01) and quality of life (r=.52; P<.01) predicted better balance confidence. In contrast, at baseline, higher levels of frailty predicted worse balance confidence (r=−.55; P<.01). Change in balance confidence after the exercise intervention was accompanied by improved physical performance (+12%) and reduced frailty (−11%). Baseline balance confidence was identified as the most consistent negative predictor of change scores across the intervention.

Conclusions: This study shows that reduced physical performance and quality of life and increased frailty are predictive of worse balance confidence in older adults with aged care needs. However, when a targeted intervention of resistance and balance exercise is implemented that reduces frailty and improves physical performance, balance confidence will also improve. Given the influence of balance confidence on a raft of well-being determinants, including the capacity for positive physical and cognitive change, this study offers important insight to those looking to reduce falls in older adults.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2021 01:58
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2022 02:57
Uncontrolled Keywords: aging; exercise; rehabilitation
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4206 Public health > 420603 Health promotion
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3202 Clinical sciences > 320210 Geriatrics and gerontology
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4207 Sports science and exercise > 420702 Exercise physiology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200502 Health related to ageing
20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200399 Provision of health and support services not elsewhere classified
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