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Open Access Research article

Changes in executive functions and self-efficacy are independently associated with improved usual gait speed in older women

Teresa Liu-Ambrose12*, Jennifer C Davis1, Lindsay S Nagamatsu13, Chun Liang Hsu1, Lindsay A Katarynych1 and Karim M Khan14

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

2 Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

3 Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

4 Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

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BMC Geriatrics 2010, 10:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-25

Published: 19 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Improved usual gait speed predicts substantial reduction in mortality. A better understanding of the modifiable factors that are independently associated with improved gait speed would ensure that intervention strategies are developed based on a valid theoretical framework. Thus, we examined the independent association of change in executive functions and change in falls-related self-efficacy with improved gait speed among community-dwelling senior women.

Methods

A secondary analysis of the 135 senior women aged 65 to 75 years old who completed a 12-month randomized controlled trial of resistance training. Usual gait speed was assessed using a 4-meter walk. Three executive processes were assessed by standard neuropsychological tests: 1) set shifting; 2) working memory; and 3) selective attention and response inhibition. A linear regression model was constructed to determine the independent association of change in executive functions and falls-related self-efficacy with change in gait speed.

Results

Improved selective attention and conflict resolution, and falls-related self-efficacy, were independently associated with improved gait speed after accounting for age, global cognition, baseline gait speed, and change in quadriceps strength. The total variance explained was 24%.

Conclusions

Interventions that target executive functions and falls-related self-efficacy, in addition to physical functions, to improve gait speed may be more efficacious than those that do not.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00426881