Background The Figure-of-8 Walk Test (F8W) involves straight and curved paths and was designed to represent walking skill in everyday life.

Objective The purposes of this study were to validate the measure in older adults with walking difficulties and to explore correlates of the curved-path walking measure not represented by a straight-path walking measure.

Design Fifty-one community-dwelling older adults with mobility disability participated in 2 baseline visits as part of an intervention study.

Methods The F8W time, steps, and smoothness and measures of gait (gait speed, modified Gait Abnormality Rating Scale [GARS-M]), physical function (Late Life Function and Disabilities Index [LLFDI], Survey of Activities and Fear of Falling in the Elderly [SAFFE], Gait Efficacy Scale [GES], Physical Performance Test [PPT], and fall history), and movement control and planning (gait variability, Trail Making Test B [Trails B]) were recorded in each test session. Bivariate correlations for the F8W with each variable were conducted to examine concurrent and construct validity. Adjusted linear regression analyses were performed to explore the variance in mobility explained by F8W independent of gait speed.

Results Figure-of-8 Walk Test time correlated with gait (gait speed, r=−.570; GARS-M, r=.281), physical function (LLFDI function, r=−.469; SAFFE restriction subscale, r=.370; PPT, r=−.353), confidence in walking (GES, r=−.468), and movement control (step length coefficient of variation, r=.279; step width coefficient of variation, r=−.277; Trails B, r=.351). Figure-of-8 Walk Test steps correlated with step width variability (r=−.339) and was related to fear of falling (t=−2.50). All correlations were significant (P<.05).

Limitations This pilot study had a small sample size, and further research is needed.

Conclusions The F8W is a valid measure of walking skill among older adults with mobility disability and may provide information complementary to gait speed.


  • Ms Hess, Dr Brach, and Dr VanSwearingen provided concept/idea/research design. All authors provided writing, data analysis, and consultation (including review of manuscript before submission). Ms Hess and Dr VanSwearingen provided data collection. Dr VanSwearingen provided project management, participants, and facilities/equipment.

  • This research was conducted in partial fulfillment of the thesis requirements for completion of Ms Hess' Bachelor of Philosophy degree.

  • This research was approved by the Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research, University of Pittsburgh.

  • Portions of this work were presented at the University of Pittsburgh Institute on Aging Celebration of Aging Research Day; December 10, 2007; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • The authors acknowledge the support of National Institutes of Health grant 1 P30 AG024827-01 awarded to the Pittsburgh Older Americans Independence Center (Principal Investigator: Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH).

  • Received April 21, 2008.
  • Accepted September 6, 2009.
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