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A Novel Tool for the Early Identification of Frailty in Elderly People: The Application in Primary Care Settings

Abstract

Objectives

Frailty is a pre-disability condition in older persons providing a challenge to Health-Care Systems. Systematic reviews highlight the absence of a gold-standard for its identification. However, an approach based on initial screening by the General Practitioner (GP) seems particularly useful. On these premises, a 9-item Sunfrail Checklist (SC), was developed by a multidisciplinary group, in the context of European Sunfrail Project, and tested in the Community.

Objectives

To measure the concordance between the judgments of frailty (criterion-validity): the one formulated by the GP, using the SC, and the one subsequently expressed by a Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment Team (CGA-Team); — to determine the construct-validity through the correspondence between some checklist items related to the 3 domains (physical, cognitive and social) and the three tools used by the CGA-Team; — to measure the instrument’s performance in terms of positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV).

Design

Cross-sectional study, with a final sample-size of 95 subjects.

Setting

Two Community-Health Centers of Parma, Italy.

Participants

Subjects aged 75 years old or more, with no disability and living in the community.

Measurements

We compared the screening capacity of the GP using the SC to that one of CGA-Team based on three tests: 4-meter Gait-Speed, Mini-Mental State Examination and Loneliness Scale.

Results

95 subjects (51 women), with a mean age of 81±4 years were enrolled. According to GPs 34 subjects were frail; the CGA-Team expressed a frailty judgment on 26 subjects. The criterion-validity presented a Cohen’s k of 0.353. Construct-validity was also low, with a maximum contingency-coefficient of 0.19. The analysis showed a PPV of 58.1% and a NPV equal to 84.6%.

Conclusions

Our data showed a low agreement between the judgements of GP performed by SC and CGA-Team. However, the good NPV suggests the applicability of SC for screening activities in primary-care.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thanks all the GPs and the participants involved.

Funding

Funding: The SUNFRAIL (project 664291), has received funding from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014–2020).

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Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marcello Maggio.

Ethics declarations

Ethical standards: The project was approved by the local ethics committee on 12 december 2017, protocol number 44605.

Additional information

Conflicts of Interest: All the authors have nothing to disclose.

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Maggio, M., Barbolini, M., Longobucco, Y. et al. A Novel Tool for the Early Identification of Frailty in Elderly People: The Application in Primary Care Settings. J Frailty Aging 9, 101–106 (2020). https://doi.org/10.14283/jfa.2019.41

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.14283/jfa.2019.41

Key words

  • Ageing
  • frailty
  • multimorbidity
  • integrated care
  • sunfrail