Date of Award


Document type


Degree Name

Masters theses/dissertations - taught courses

First Supervisor

Professor Marie Guidon


Fear of Falling, Dual Task, Parkinsons Disease


People with Parkinson’s Disease (PwP) report greater levels of fear of falling (FOF) and demonstrate poorer ability to complete two tasks at once (i.e. dual-tasking) than healthy age-matched controls.

Aims and Objectives:

Aim: to assess the association between FOF and dual-task performance in communitydwelling PwP. Objectives: a) to assess the level of FOF in PwP in Ireland, b) to investigate the association between FOF and both motor and cognitive dual-task performance.


Thirty-one PwP (54.8% male) participated (Hoehn and Yahr Stages I-IV) with a mean age and duration of disease of 69.5 (±8.4) and four (±five) years respectively. The Activities-specific Balance Confidence scale was used to estimate the level of FOF. Dual-task ability was assessed by adding concurrent tasks to the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test. The motor dual-task involved carrying a glass of water (TUG-Manual) and the cognitive dual-tasks were serial subtractions (TUG-Arithmetic) and reciting the days of the week backwards (TUG-Literacy).


Forty-five percent of participants reported high levels of FOF. Correlation testing and linear regression analysis demonstrated that FOF was strongly associated with the motor dual-task (p=0.01), explaining 25% of the variance in the TUG-Manual. Fear of falling was moderately associated with the TUG-Literacy when outliers were removed ii (p=0.045) but was weakly associated with the TUG-Arithmetic (p=0.13). Fear of falling explained 10.2% and 5.6% of the variance in the TUG-Literacy and the TUGArithmetic respectively.


There was a strong association between FOF and the motor dual-task and a weak to moderate association between FOF and the cognitive dual-tasks.

Implications of findings:

Dual-task difficulties and FOF are common in PwP. The association between FOF and dual-task performance depends on the type of dual-task. Future research could assess the impact of balance and dual-task training on reducing FOF and improving dual-task performance in PwP.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MSc in Neurology and Gerontology to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2014.