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BACKGROUND: The four square step test (FSST) was first validated in healthy older adults to provide a measure of dynamic standing balance and mobility. The FSST has since been used in a variety of patient populations. The purpose of this systematic review is to determine the validity and reliability of the FSST in these different adult patient populations. METHODS: The literature search was conducted to highlight all the studies that measured validity and reliability of the FSST. Six electronic databases were searched including AMED, CINAHL, MEDLINE, PEDro, Web of Science and Google Scholar. Grey literature was also searched for any documents relevant to the review. Two independent reviewers carried out study selection and quality assessment. The methodological quality was assessed using the QUADAS-2 tool, which is a validated tool for the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies, and the COSMIN four-point checklist, which contains standards for evaluating reliability studies on the measurement properties of health instruments. RESULTS: Fifteen studies were reviewed studying community-dwelling older adults, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, vestibular disorders, post stroke, post unilateral transtibial amputation, knee pain and hip osteoarthritis. Three of the studies were of moderate methodological quality scoring low in risk of bias and applicability for all domains in the QUADAS-2 tool. Three studies scored "fair" on the COSMIN four-point checklist for the reliability components. The concurrent validity of the FSST was measured in nine of the studies with moderate to strong correlations being found. Excellent Intraclass Correlation Coefficients were found between physiotherapists carrying out the tests (ICC = .99) with good to excellent test-retest reliability shown in nine of the studies (ICC = .73-.98). CONCLUSIONS: The FSST may be an effective and valid tool for measuring dynamic balance and a participants' falls risk. It has been shown to have strong correlations with other measures of balance and mobility with good reliability shown in a number of populations. However, the quality of the papers reviewed was variable with key factors, such as sample size and test set up, needing to be addressed before the tool can be confidently used in these specified populations.

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Journal article


Syst rev

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Outcome measures, Reliability, Systematic review, Validity, Accidental Falls, Exercise Test, Humans, Movement, Patient Selection, Postural Balance, Reproducibility of Results, Risk Assessment