Fear of Falling, Community Participation, and Quality of Life Among Community-Dwelling People Who Use Wheelchairs Full Time

JongHun Sung, Sa Shen, Elizabeth W Peterson, Jacob J Sosnoff, Deborah Backus, Laura A Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To examine the differences in community participation and quality of life (QOL) among individuals who use wheelchairs full time with and without fear of falling (FOF).

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study design.

SETTING: University research laboratory.

PARTICIPANTS: Individuals (N=85) who use a manual or power wheelchair full time who are living with various health conditions and have a history of at least 1 fall in the past 12 months (age, 45.4±15.8y; disability duration, 21.5±13.6y) were included. Forty-six (54%) were manual wheelchair users.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: To quantify FOF, participants responded (yes/no) to the question: "Are you worried or concerned that you might fall?" Community participation and QOL were indexed by the Community Participation Indicator (CPI) and the World Health Organization Quality of Life-Brief version (WHOQOL-BREF), respectively. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to examine the differences in CPI and WHOQOL-BREF scores among wheelchair users who reported FOF and no FOF.

RESULTS: A total of 54 participants (63.5%) reported that they were worried or concerned about falling. The MANOVA revealed significant differences in overall CPI (F2,82=4.714; P=.012; Wilks' λ=0.897) and WHOQOL-BREF (F4,63=3.32; P=.016; Wilks' λ=.826) scores. Participants who reported FOF demonstrated significantly lower CPI and WHOQOL-BREF scores compared with those who did not report FOF.

CONCLUSIONS: FOF and associated activity curtailment are prevalent and may be a factor influencing full time wheelchair users' community participation and QOL. Prospective research is needed to better understand how FOF influences community participation and QOL among individuals who use wheelchairs full time. Findings would support the development of interventions, specifically for individuals who use wheelchairs full time, to reduce FOF and improve community participation and QOL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1140-1146
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Early online dateDec 22 2020
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Community participation
  • Quality of life
  • Rehabilitation
  • Wheelchairs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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