Content » Vol 50, Issue 3

Original report

Comparison of the de Morton Mobility Index and Hierarchical Assessment of Balance and Mobility in older acute medical patients

Tobias Braun, Christian Grüneberg, Anna Coppers, Linda Tofaute, Christian Thiel
Department of Applied Health Sciences, Hochschule für Gesundheit, 44789 Bochum, Germany. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2320


Objective: To compare the measurement properties of the de Morton Mobility Index (DEMMI) and the Hierarchical Assessment of Balance and Mobility (HABAM) in an older acute medical inpatient population.
Design: Cross-sectional.
Subjects: Older acute medical inpatients.
Methods: The DEMMI, HABAM and further assessments were performed after hospital admission. Construct validity was assessed by testing 13 hypotheses on convergent and known-groups validity. Test–retest reliability and minimal detectable change were estimated based on a re-assessment of unchanged patients. Floor and ceiling effects were used to indicate adequacy of scale width.
Results: For both the DEMMI and HABAM, 11 (85%) hypotheses regarding construct validity were confirmed (n = 158). Both scales showed strong correlations with other multi-component mobility scales (Spearman’s rho 0. 75–0. 92). Neither floor nor ceiling effects were evident. The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0. 98 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0. 96–0. 99) for the DEMMI and 0. 99 (95% CI 0. 99–0. 99) for the HABAM, respectively (n = 30). The minimal detectable change with 90% confidence was 6 points on the 100-point DEMMI scale and 1 point on the 26-point HABAM scale.
Conclusion: The DEMMI and the HABAM appear to be suitable for measuring mobility in older acute medical patients.

Lay Abstract

Mobility is important to older people and indicates health status. The de Morton Mobility Index (DEMMI) and Hierarchical Assessment of Balance and Mobility (HABAM) are standardized measurement instruments used by health professions to assess the mobility capacity of older people. We examined the quality of these two instruments in a sample of 158 older acute medical patients in a geriatric hospital. It appeared that both instruments produce equally valid and reliable scores over the whole range of mobility found in this population. We concluded that both instruments seem suitable to inform patients and health professions on the mobility capacity of older people.


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