Prevalence of falls among elderly participants of a health promotion group and comparison of balance tests to detect risk of falls

Abstract Introduction: Falls of elderly people are common, representing a serious public health problem. The use of appropriate instruments in the assessment of elderly patients supports the early detection of individuals under risk of falls and its prevention. Objective: To verify the incidence of falls in a group of elderly patients and detect which balance test is the most appropriate for the studied sample. Methods: Quantitative, cross-sectional study with an observational approach. A total of 30 elderly patients aged over 60 years old participating in a health promotion group were included in the sample. The participants were initially interviewed and subsequently assessed by means of the following instruments: Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Timed Up and Go test (TUG), and the Dynamic Gait Index (DGI). Results: The mean age of the participants was 69.30 ± 7.47 years; 90% were women and 46.7% of the individuals reported falls. The participants obtained a mean value of 10.2 ± 2.5 seconds in the TUG, 51.4 ± 2.6 in the BBS, and 18.6 ± 4.2 in the DGI. The sensitivity of the scales was 0.71 in the TUG, 0.50 in the DGI, and 0.42 in the BBS; specificity was 0.44 in the TUG, 0.32 in the DGI and 0.63 in the BBS. Conclusion: A high prevalence of falls was observed in the sample. In addition, the TUG was the most sensitive test to assess balance in the assessed sample. However, its use alone requires caution in this sample.