• Vol. 48 No. 7
  • 15 July 2019

Screening Tools for Sarcopenia in Community-Dwellers: A Scoping Review



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Sarcopenia is characterised by a progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength and/or performance. It is associated with adverse health outcomes such as increased morbidity, functional decline and death. Early detection of sarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults is important to prevent these outcomes. Our scoping review evaluates validated screening tools that are used to identify commuitydwelling older individuals at risk of sarcopenia and appraises their performance against international consensus definitions. Materials and Methods: A systematic search on MEDLINE, PubMed and EMBASE was performed for articles that evaluated the predictive validity measures of screening tools and validated them against at least 1 internationally recognised diagnostic criterion for sarcopenia. Results: Of the 17 articles identified in our search, 8 used questionnaires as screening tool, 2 utilised anthropometric measurements, 3 used a combination of questionnaire and anthropometric measures and 1 used a physical performance measure (chair stand test). The questionnaire Strength, Assistance with walking, Rising from chair, Climbing stairs and Falls (SARC-F) has the highest specificity (94.4-98.7%) but low sensitivity (4.2-9.9%), with the 5-item questionnaire outperforming the 3-item version. When SARC-F is combined with calf circumference, its sensitivity is enhanced with improvement in overall diagnostic performance. Although equation-based anthropometric screening tools performed well, they warrant external validation. Conclusion: Our scoping review identified 6 candidate tools to screen for sarcopenia. Direct comparison studies in the community would help to provide insights into their comparative performance as screening tools. More studies are needed to reach a consensus on the best screening tool(s) to be used in clinical practice.

Sarcopenia is characterised by aged-related progressive
and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength.1
It is estimated that adults lose about 3% to 5% of muscle
mass every decade starting from the fourth decade of life.2
After age 50, the rate of loss increases from 1% to 2% every
year.2 The prevalence of sarcopenia varies according to the
age band, contexts and definition of sarcopenia.3 It can range
from 3% in community-dwelling adults >60 years old to
33% in those who reside in institutional care.

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