Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Apr;57(4):634-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02180.x.

Fear of moving outdoors and development of outdoor walking difficulty in older people.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health Sciences, Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Gerontology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.



To study which individual characteristics and environmental factors correlate with fear of moving outdoors and whether fear of moving outdoors predicts development of mobility limitation.


Observational prospective cohort study and cross-sectional analyses.


Community and research center.


Seven hundred twenty-seven community-living people aged 75 to 81 were interviewed at baseline, of whom 314 took part in a 3.5-year follow-up.


Fear of moving outdoors and its potential individual and environmental correlates were assessed at baseline. Perceived difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km were assessed twice a year over a 3.5-year period.


At baseline, 65% of the women and 29% of the men reported fear of moving outdoors. Poor socioeconomic status; musculoskeletal diseases; slow walking speed; and the presence of poor street conditions, hills in the nearby environment, and noisy traffic correlated with fear of moving outdoors. At the first 6-month follow-up, participants with fear of moving outdoors had more than four times the adjusted risk (odds ratio (OR)=4.6, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.92-11.00) of developing difficulties in walking 0.5 km and a three times greater adjusted risk (OR=3.10, 95% CI=1.49-6.46) for developing difficulty in walking 2 km compared with those without fear. The difference in the prevalence of walking difficulties remained statistically significant over the 3.5-year follow-up (P=.02 and P=.009, respectively).


Fear of moving outdoors is common in older adults and increases the risk of developing self-reported difficulties in walking 0.5 km and 2 km. Knowledge about individual and environmental factors underlying fear of moving outdoors and finding ways to alleviate fear of moving outdoors are important for community planning and prevention of disability.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk