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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 8570960, 10 pages
Clinical Study

Effects of Gait Self-Efficacy and Lower-Extremity Physical Function on Dual-Task Performance in Older Adults

1University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
2Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA
3University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA
4Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
5Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Diane K. Ehlers

Received 29 June 2016; Revised 9 December 2016; Accepted 10 January 2017; Published 1 February 2017

Academic Editor: Erwin van Wegen

Copyright © 2017 Diane K. Ehlers et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. Despite evidence of self-efficacy and physical function’s influences on functional limitations in older adults, few studies have examined relationships in the context of complex, real-world tasks. The present study tested the roles of self-efficacy and physical function in predicting older adults’ street-crossing performance in single- and dual-task simulations. Methods. Lower-extremity physical function, gait self-efficacy, and street-crossing success ratio were assessed in 195 older adults (60–79 years old) at baseline of a randomized exercise trial. During the street-crossing task, participants walked on a self-propelled treadmill in a virtual reality environment. Participants crossed the street without distraction (single-task trials) and conversed on a cell phone (dual-task trials). Structural equation modeling was used to test hypothesized associations independent of demographic and clinical covariates. Results. Street-crossing performance was better on single-task trials when compared with dual-task trials. Direct effects of self-efficacy and physical function on success ratio were observed in dual-task trials only. The total effect of self-efficacy was significant in both conditions. The indirect path through physical function was evident in the dual-task condition only. Conclusion. Physical function can predict older adults’ performance on high fidelity simulations of complex, real-world tasks. Perceptions of function (i.e., self-efficacy) may play an even greater role. The trial is registered with United States National Institutes of Health (ID: NCT01472744; Fit & Active Seniors Trial).