Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Supervisor

Speechley, Mark

2nd Supervisor

Montero-Odasso, Manuel

Co-Supervisor

Abstract

Gait speed is a marker of health and independence in older adults. Mitigation of gait speed impairments through intervention on modifiable risk factors is key to preventing adverse health declines. Using cross-sectional data from adults aged 45 to 85 years in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, this thesis estimated population gait speed norms and ‘slow gait’ prevalence and assessed the potentially modifiable and non-modifiable correlates of gait speed. Significantly slower average gait speeds and greater proportions of gait speeds below 1.0 m/s were seen in older age groups. While gait speed variability was largely explained by non-modifiable factors, statistically significant associations were found for several clinical and lifestyle factors that are modifiable through intervention and education. These findings were corroborated by our systematic review on the modifiable risk factors for slow gait speed in older community-dwellers. Future longitudinal research is required to explore the clinical relevance of these findings.

Summary for Lay Audience

Gait (walking) speed is a marker of health and independence in older adults. Slow gait has been linked to a greater risk of falls, dependence in everyday activities, multimorbidity, cognitive decline, and mortality. To prevent and delay gait speed slowing and these negative outcomes, it is important to target risk factors that can be changed through clinical intervention and lifestyle modification. Using the cross-sectional data of adults aged 45 to 85 years in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, this thesis estimated population gait speed norms and the proportion of individuals with ‘slow gait’ and assessed the potentially modifiable and non-modifiable factors associated with gait speed. Significantly slower average gait speeds and greater proportions of gait speeds below 1.0 m/s were seen in older age groups. While gait speed variability was largely explained by non-modifiable factors, statistically significant associations were found for several potentially modifiable clinical and lifestyle factors. These findings were corroborated by our systematic review on the modifiable risk factors for slow gait speed in older community-dwellers. Future longitudinal research is required to explore the clinical relevance of these findings.

Available for download on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

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