Gait speed correlates in a multiracial population of community-dwelling older adults living in Brazil: A cross-sectional population-based study

BMC Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.26). 02/2013; 13(1):182. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-182
Source: PubMed


Gait speed is a strong predictor of a wide range of adverse health outcomes in older adults. Mean values for gait speed in community-dwelling older adults vary substantially depending on population characteristics, suggesting that social, biological, or health factors might explain why certain groups tend to self-select their gait speed in different patterns. The vast majority of studies reported in the literature present data from North American and European populations. There are few population-based studies from other regions with a different ethnicity and/or social and health conditions. To address this, the present study identified the mean usual and fast gait speeds in a representative multiracial population of community-dwelling older adults living in a developing country, and explored their association with sociodemographic, mental and physical health characteristics.

This was a cross-sectional population-based study of a sample of 137 men and 248 women, aged 65 years and over. Usual gait speed and fast gait speed were measured on a 4.6 m path. Participants were classified into slow, intermediate, and faster groups by cluster analysis. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate the independent effect of each factor on the odds of presenting with a slower usual and slower fast gait speeds.

Participants had a mean (SD) usual gait speed of 1.11 (0.27) m/s and a mean fast gait speed of 1.39 (0.34) m/s. We did not observe an independent association between gait speed and race/ethnicity, educational level, or income. The main contributors to present a slower usual gait speed were low physical activity level, stroke, diabetes, urinary incontinence, high concern about falling, and old age. A slower fast gait speed was associated with old age, low physical activity, urinary incontinence and high concern about falling.

A multiracial population of older adults living in a developing country showed a similar mean gait speed to that observed in previously studied populations. The results suggest that low physical activity, urinary incontinence and high concern about falling should not be neglected and may help identify those who might benefit from early intervention.

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