Study Shows Reliability of Phases in 30 Second Chair Stand Test for FM Patients

Study Shows Reliability of Phases in 30 Second Chair Stand Test for FM Patients

The analysis of movement phases, namely sitting and standing, as part of the 30 second chair stand test is a reliable tool to access physical fitness in fibromyalgia patients.

The study, “Reliability of the 30 s Chair Stand Test in Women with Fibromyalgia,” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Physical fitness is associated with pain and can greatly affect quality of life; therefore, it’s important to measure it in people with fibromyalgia. One common method for testing physical fitness in people with chronic pain diseases, such as fibromyalgia, is the 30 second chair stand test.

In this test, the participant sits in a chair, then stands up, then sits again, without using his or her hands, for 30 seconds. The most commonly used outcome measurement from the test is the number of repetitions (times a person stands and sits); this parameter has been demonstrated to be reliable and to be associated with other clinical measurements (e.g. pain levels).

Moreover, “In women with FM, the 30 s chair stand test has been used to discriminate the presence/absence of FM and the severity of the associated symptoms,” the authors said.

Recent research has suggested that the kinematics of sitting and standing — that is, details about the patients’ movements, not just the number of times they can get up — may provide additional, useful data about a patient’s physical fitness. However, the reliability of such measurements in fibromyalgia patients hasn’t been verified.

In the new study, researchers set out to do just that. They recruited 30 female fibromyalgia patients and had them perform the 30 s chair stand test twice, with a five-minute break between each test.

They measured patients’ movements in two phases: an “impulse phase” and a “non-contact phase.” In simplest terms, the researchers put a button on the chair that was pushed when the patients sat on it. By recording how much time the button was pushed (impulse phase, when patients were seated) or not pushed (non-contact phase, when the patients were standing), the researchers could assess the kinematics of the patients’ movements.

The researchers compared the measurements taken in the first test with those taken in the second test to see how similar they were, which in turn suggests the reliability of the test.

It turned out to be pretty reliable: The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC, a statistical measurement of reliability) for the impulse phase was 0.866, and for the non-contact phase, it was 0.929. Generally, reliability is considered “good” when ICC is greater than 0.7 and “excellent” when ICC is greater than 0.9. The measurements were thus solidly reliable, although the researcher noted that these measurements were less reliable right at the beginning of the test.

They also assessed the reliability of the number of sit/stand repetitions for comparison and calculated an ICC of 0.876.

The investigators also compared these measurements to patients’ self-reported number of falls in the past year and fear of falling (on a scale from zero being no fear to 100 extreme fear). Interestingly, the 30 s chair stand test measurements were all associated with patients’ fear of falling, but not with the actual number of falls.

The researchers concluded, “The results of the study show that the reliability of the number of repetitions and the mean duration of the two phases of 30 s chair stand test was good or excellent in women with fibromyalgia.”

This study is still small and preliminary; more research is needed, particularly in assessing whether and how these measurements can inform doctors and patients about a person’s disease and health.