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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 24, Issue 3, Pages 219-228

On the Nature of Fear of Falling in Parkinson’s Disease

S. Rahman,1 H. J. Griffin,1,2 N. P. Quinn,1 and M. Jahanshahi1

1Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders, Institute of Neurology and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London, Queen Square, WC1N 3BG, London, UK
2Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, University College London, 26 Bedford Way, WC1H 0AP, London, UK

Received 12 March 2008; Accepted 28 January 2011

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. 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.


In the elderly, fear of falling (FoF) can lead to activity restriction and affect quality of life (QoL). Our aim was to identify the characteristics of FoF in Parkinson's disease and assess its impact on QoL. We assessed FoF in 130 patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) on scales measuring perceived self-efficacy in performing a range of activities (FES), perceived consequences of falling (CoF), and activity avoidance (SAFFE). A significant difference was found in FoF between PD patients who had previously fallen and those who had not and between frequent and infrequent fallers. Patient-rated disability significantly influenced FoF. Difficulty in rising from a chair, difficulty turning, start hesitation, festination, loss of balance, and shuffling were the specific mobility problems which were associated with greater FoF in PD. Disability was the main predictor of FoF, additionally depression predicted perceived consequences of falling, while anxiety predicted activity avoidance. The FoF measures explained 65% of the variance of QoL in PD, highlighting the clinical importance of FoF. These results have implications for the clinical management of FoF in PD.