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Reliability and Validity of the Floor Transfer Test as a Measure of Readiness for Independent Living Among Older Adults

Ardali, Gunay PT, PhD1,2; Brody, Lori T. PT, PhD1,3; States, Rebecca A. PhD4; Godwin, Ellen M. PT, PhD4

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: July/September 2019 - Volume 42 - Issue 3 - p 136–147
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0000000000000142
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Background and Purpose: The ability to get up from the floor after a fall is a basic skill required for functional independence. Consequently, the inability to safely get down to and up from the floor or to perform a floor transfer (FT) may indicate decreased mobility and/or increased frailty. A reliable and valid test of FT ability is a critical part of the clinical decision-making process. The FT test is a simple, performance-based test that can be administered quickly and easily to determine a patient's ability to safely and successfully get down and up from the floor using any movement strategy and without time restriction. The primary purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine the intrarater reliability and validity of the FT test as a practical alternative to several widely used yet time-consuming measures of physical disability, frailty, and functional mobility.

Methods: A total of 61 community-dwelling older adults (65-96 years of age) participated in the study, divided into 2 separate subsamples: intrarater reliability was studied with 15 participants, while concurrent validity was studied with the remaining 46 participants. In both subsamples, the participants were stratified on the basis of the self-reported levels of FT ability as independent, assisted, and dependent. Intrarater reliability was assessed on 2 separate occasions and scores were analyzed by intraclass correlation coefficient and κ statistics. Concurrent validity of the FT test was assessed against the self-reported FT ability questionnaire, Physical Functioning Scale, Phenotype of Physical Frailty, and the Short Physical Performance Battery. Known-groups validity was tested by determining whether the FT test distinguished between (1) community-dwelling older adults with physical disabilities versus those without physical disabilities; and (2) community-dwelling older adults who were functionally dependent versus those who were independent. Participants were also categorized on the basis of FT test outcome as independent, assisted, or dependent. The Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated to examine the strength of the relationships between the FT test and physical status measures. The Kruskal-Wallis test was used to determine whether the FT test significantly discriminated between groups as categorized by the Physical Functioning Scale and Short Physical Performance Battery, and to examine the significance level of the sociodemographic data across the 3 FT test outcome groups.

Results: The intrarater reliabilities of the measures were good (0.73-1.00). There were statistically positive and strong correlations between the FT test and all physical status measures (ρ ranged from 0.86 to 0.93, P < .001). Older adults who passed the FT test were collectively categorized as those without physical disabilities and functionally independent, whereas older adults who failed the FT test were categorized as those with physical disabilities and functionally dependent (P < .001).

Conclusion: The FT test is a reliable and valid measure for screening for physical disability, frailty, and functional mobility. It can determine which older adults have physical disabilities and/or functional dependence and hence may be useful in assessing readiness for independent living. Inclusion of the FT test at initial evaluation may reveal the presence of these conditions and address the safety of older adults in the community.

1Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah.

2Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Home Care, Brooklyn, New York.

3University of Wisconsin Sports Medicine and Spine Center, Madison, Wisconsin.

4Division of Physical Therapy, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York.

Address correspondence to: Gunay Ardali, PT, PhD, Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) Home Care, 1630 E 15th St, Brooklyn, NY 11229 (gunay.ardali@vnsny.org).

This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Orthopaedic and Sports Science, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah. This project was initiated and analyzed solely by the investigators.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Bill Andrews was the Decision Editor.

© 2019 Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy, APTA
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