Screening for frailty in primary care: Accuracy of gait speed and hand-grip strength.

The objective was to examine the accuracy of individual Fried frailty phenotype measures in identifying the Fried frailty phenotype in primary care. This was achieved through a retrospective chart review in a community centre involving 516 over 75’s. Using modified Fried frailty phenotype measures, frailty criteria included gait speed, hand-grip strength as measured by a dynamometer, and self-reported exhaustion, low physical activity, and unintended weight loss. Sensitivity, specificity, accuracy, and precision were calculated for single-trait and dual-trait markers.

Complete frailty screening data were available for 383 patients. The overall prevalence of frailty based on the presence of 3 or more frailty criteria was 6.5%. The overall prevalence of individual Fried frailty phenotype markers ranged from 2.1% to 19.6%. The individual criteria all showed sensitivity and specificity of more than 80%, with the exception of weight loss (8.3% and 97.4%, respectively). The positive predictive value of the single-item criteria in predicting the Fried frailty phenotype ranged from 12.5% to 52.5%. When gait speed and hand-grip strength were combined as a dual measure, the positive predictive value increased to 87.5%.

There is a need for frailty measures that are psychometrically sound and feasible to administer in primary care. While use of gait speed or grip strength alone was found to be sensitive and specific as a proxy for the Fried frailty phenotype, use of both measures together was found to be accurate, precise, specific, and more sensitive than other possible combinations. Assessing both measures is feasible within primary care.