Frailty and sarcopenia are common amongst hospitalised older people and associated with poor healthcare outcomes. Widely recognised tools for their identification are the Fried Frailty Phenotype, its self-report version the FRAIL Scale, and the European Working Group on Sarcopenia in Older People (EWGSOP) criteria. We studied the feasibility of using these tools in a hospital setting of acute wards for older people.
Patients aged 70+ years admitted to acute wards at one English hospital were prospectively recruited. The Fried Frailty Phenotype was assessed through measured grip strength, gait speed and questions on unintentional weight loss, exhaustion and physical activity. The 5-item self-reported FRAIL scale questionnaire covering the same domains was completed. Agreement between the two tools was reported using the Cohen kappa statistic. The EWGSOP criteria (gait speed, grip strength and muscle mass) were assessed by additional bedside measurement of muscle mass with bioelectrical impedance.
Two hundred thirty three participants (median age 80 years, 60% men) were recruited. Most (221, 95%) had their grip strength measured: 4 (2%) were unable and data were missing for 8 (3%). Only 70 (30%) completed the gait speed assessment: 153 (66%) were unable with missing data on 10 (4%). 113 (49%) participants had the bioelectrical impedance assessment. Muscle mass measurement was not possible for 84 (36%) participants: 25 patients declined, 21 patients were unavailable, 22 results were technically invalid, and 16 had clinical contra-indications. Data on 36 (15%) were missing. Considering inability to complete grip strength or gait speed assessments as low values, data for the Fried Frailty Phenotype was available for 218 (94%) of participants; frailty was identified in 105 (48%). 230 (99%) patients completed the FRAIL scale; frailty was identified among 77 (34%). There was moderate agreement between the two frailty tools (Kappa value of 0.46, 95%CI: 0.34 to 0.58). Complete data for the EWGOSP criteria were only available for 124 (53%) patients of whom 40 (32%) had sarcopenia.
It was feasible to measure grip strength and complete the FRAIL scale among older inpatients in hospital. Measuring gait speed and muscle mass to identify sarcopenia was challenging in the acute setting.
ISRCTN registry (ID ISRCTN16391145) on 30.12.14.