Detectable changes in physical performance measures in elderly African Americans

K. Kline Mangione, Rebecca L. Craik, Alyson A. McCormick, Heather L. Blevins, Meaghan B. White, Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx, James D. Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. African American older adults have higher rates of self-reported disability and lower physical performance scores compared with white older adults. Measures of physical performance are used to predict future morbidity and to determine the effect of exercise. Characteristics of performance measures are not known for African American older adults. Objective. The purpose of this study was to estimate the standard error of measurement (SEM) and minimal detectable change (MDC) for the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), Timed "Up & Go" Test (TUG) time, free gait speed, fast gait speed, and Six-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) distance in frail African American adults. Design. This observational measurement study used a test-retest design. Methods. Individuals were tested 2 times over a 1-week period. Demographic data collected included height, weight, number of medications, assistive device use, and Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) scores. Participants then completed the 5 physical performance tests. Results. Fifty-two participants (mean age=78 years) completed the study. The average MMSE score was 25 points, and the average body mass index was 29.4 kg/m2. On average, participants took 7 medications, and the majority used assistive devices. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC [2,1]) were greater than .90, except for the SPPB score (ICC=.81). The SEMs were 1.2 points for the SPPB, 1.7 seconds for the TUG, 0.08 m/s for free gait speed, 0.09 m/s for fast gait speed, and 28 m for 6MWT distance. The MDC values were 2.9 points for the SPPB, 4 seconds for the TUG, 0.19 m/s for free gait speed, 0.21 m/s for fast gait speed, and 65 m for 6MWT distance. Limitations. The entire sample was from an urban area. Conclusions. The SEMs were similar to previously reported values and can be used when working with African American and white older adults. Estimates of MDC were calculated to assist in clinical interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-927
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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