Importance: The Purdue Pegboard Test (PPT) is widely used as a measure of manual dexterity. Declining manual dexterity may predict cognitive decline among elderly people, but normative data for this population are scarce.
Objective: To identify demographic and clinical predictors of PPT results in normal middle-aged and elderly Austrian people and to provide norms stratified by significant determinants.
Design: A prospective, community-based cohort study using baseline data of participants from two study panels (1991–1994 and 1999–2003).
Setting: Monocentric study
Participants: 1,355 healthy, randomly selected, community-dwelling people ages 40 to 79 yr.
Method: Extensive clinical examination, including completion of the PPT.
Outcomes and Measures: The number of pegs placed within a 30-s time limit on four subtests: using the right hand, left hand, both hands, and assembly (within 60 s), respectively. Demographic outcomes were the highest grade achieved.
Results: For all four subtests, increasing age (βs = −0.400 to −0.118, SEs = 0.006 to 0.019, p < .001) and male sex (βs = −1.440 to −0.807, SEs = 0.107 to 0.325, p < .001) was related to worse test results. Among vascular risk factors, diabetes (βs = −1.577 to −0.419, SEs = 0.165 to 0.503, p < .001) was related to worse test results but explained only a small portion (0.7%–1.1%) of the variability in PPT performance.
Conclusions and Relevance: We provide age- and sex-specific norms of the PPT for a middle-aged and elderly population. The data represent useful reference values when assessing manual dexterity in older age groups.
What This Article Adds: Advancing age and male sex relate to worse performance on the PPT in a community-dwelling cohort without signs and symptoms of neurological disease. Vascular risk factors explain only very little of the variance of test results in our population. Our study adds to the limited age- and sex-specific norms of the PPT among middle-aged and older people.