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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2017

Developing a comprehensive measure of mobility: mobility over varied environments scale (MOVES)

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2017
Jana A. Hirsch, Meghan Winters, Joanie Sims-Gould, Philippa J. Clarke, Nathalie Ste-Marie, Maureen Ashe, Heather A. McKay
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-017-4450-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



While recent work emphasizes the multi-dimensionality of mobility, no current measure incorporates multiple domains of mobility. Using existing conceptual frameworks we identified four domains of mobility (physical, cognitive, social, transportation) to create a “Mobility Over Varied Environments Scale” (MOVES). We then assessed expected patterns of MOVES in the Canadian population.


An expert panel identified survey items within each MOVES domain from the Canadian Community Health Survey- Healthy Aging Cycle (2008–2009) for 28,555 (weighted population n = 12,805,067) adults (≥45 years). We refined MOVES using principal components analysis and Cronbach’s alpha and weighted items so each domain was 10 points. Expected mobility trends, as assessed by average MOVES, were examined by sociodemographic and health factors, and by province, using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).


MOVES ranged from 0 to 40, where 0 represents individuals who are immobile and 40 those who are fully mobile. Mean MOVES was 29.58 (95% confidence interval (CI) 29.49, 29.67) (10th percentile: 24.17 (95% CI 23.96, 24.38), 90th percentile: 34.70 (CI 34.55, 34.85)). MOVES scores were lower for older, female, and non-white Canadians with worse health and lower socioeconomic status. MOVES was also lower for those who live in less urban areas.


MOVES is a holistic measure of mobility for characterizing older adult mobility across populations. Future work should examine individual or neighborhood predictors of MOVES and its relationship to broader health outcomes. MOVES holds utility for research, surveillance, evaluation, and interventions around the broad factors influencing mobility in older adults.
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