Determination of the Minimal Important Change in the Life-Space Assessment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Geriatrics Society








activities of daily living; life space; minimal important change; mobility; walking


© 2018 The American Geriatrics Society Background/Objectives: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Life-Space Assessment (LSA) is a widely used measure of community mobility. To assist clinicians and researchers with assessing the significance of changes in scores, we determined the minimal important change associated with a change in health status. Setting: Homes of community-dwelling older adults. Participants: A total of 419 African American and non-Hispanic white adults 75 years and older participating in the UAB Study of Aging II, a longitudinal epidemiological study across the state of Alabama. Intervention: None. Measurements: Linear mixed models were used to compare change in LSA scores over 1-month intervals (N = 9712) between participants reporting improvement, no change, or decline in activities of daily living walking scores, accounting for the correlation among scores for the same participant over time. Results: A decline in walking status was associated with a mean decrease in LSA scores of 2.93 points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.69-4.17 points), indicating lower mobility. An improvement in walking status was associated with a mean increase in LSA scores of 2.51 points (95% CI = 1.26-3.77 points), indicating higher mobility. Conclusion: A change in LSA scores of five or more is clinically important, exceeding the 95% CI for the change in LSA associated with change in walking status. Changes exceeding this threshold should prompt further investigation by providers with a goal of preserving mobility. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:565–569, 2019.

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