Gait Speed Predicts Incident Disability: A Pooled Analysis

Subashan Perera, Kushang V. Patel, Caterina Rosano, Susan M. Rubin, Suzanne Satterfield, Tamara Harris, Kristine Ensrud, Eric Orwoll, Christine Lee, Julie M. Chandler, Anne B. Newman, Jane A. Cauley, Jack M. Guralnik, Luigi Ferrucci, Stephanie A. Studenski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Background. Functional independence with aging is an important goal for individuals and society. Simple prognostic indicators can inform health promotion and care planning, but evidence is limited by heterogeneity in measures of function. Methods. We performed a pooled analysis of data from seven studies of 27,220 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 or older with baseline gait speed, followed for disability and mortality. Outcomes were incident inability or dependence on another person in bathing or dressing; and difficulty walking - mile or climbing 10 steps within 3 years. Results. Participants with faster baseline gait had lower rates of incident disability. In subgroups (defined by 0.2 m/s-wide intervals from <0.4 to ≥1.4 m/s) with increasingly greater gait speed, 3-year rates of bathing or dressing dependence trended from 10% to 1% in men, and from 15% to 1% in women, while mobility difficulty trended from 47% to 4% in men and 40% to 6% in women. The age-adjusted relative risk ratio per 0.1 m/s greater speed for bathing or dressing dependence in men was 0.68 (0.57-0.81) and in women: 0.74 (0.66-0.82); for mobility difficulty, men: 0.75 (0.68-0.82), women: 0.73 (0.67-0.80). Results were similar for combined disability and mortality. Effects were largely consistent across subgroups based on age, gender, race, body mass index, prior hospitalization, and selected chronic conditions. In the presence of multiple other risk factors for disability, gait speed significantly increased the area under the receiver operator characteristic curve. Conclusion. In older adults, gait speed predicts 3 year incidence of bathing or dressing dependence, mobility difficulty, and a composite outcome of disability and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 15 2015


  • Disability
  • Gait speed
  • Mobility
  • Mortality
  • Performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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