Study: Screening Tool Can Help Assess Sarcopenia in Older Adults

August 8, 2018

The rising global aging population has led to increased attention on sarcopenia, a condition characterized by an age-related decline in muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical function. However, diagnosing sarcopenia can be difficult and complex. A study in the August issue of JAMDA discusses SARC-F, a simplified screening tool for assessing sarcopenia in an older population. The authors determined that while this tool is imperfect, it is useful for selecting subjects who should undergo further testing to confirm sarcopenia.

In “SARC-F for Screening of Sarcopenia Among Older Adults: A Meta-analysis of Screening Test Accuracy,” the authors looked at seven studies involving the use of SARC-F with 12,800 subjects. There are 5 SARC-F components: Strength, Assistance with walking, Rise from a chair, Climb stairs, and Falls. The scores range from 0 to 10, with 0 to 2 points for each component.

The SARC-F is “highly feasible,” said the authors, because it is a self-administered questionnaire that enables simple, low-cost assessment and can help narrow down individuals with a higher likelihood of sarcopenia. As a result, the authors noted, “The amount of time taken to assess muscle mass, grip strength, and physical performance, which are necessary for the eventual definitive diagnosis, can be reduced.”

The ability to quickly and accurately identify individuals who should undergo further testing is essential with this condition. Because sarcopenia is treatable, early diagnosis and rapidly implemented treatment measures are key. Using the SARC-F, the authors said, can help promote early identification and treatment for people with sarcopenia.

The authors concluded that the screening ability of SARC-F appears to be low for the purpose of excluding sarcopenia. However, they stressed that it can be a useful tool for detecting subjects who should receive further testing to make a definitive diagnosis of the condition.

This study was conducted by researchers in the Department of Diabetes and Metabolism at the Ise Red Cross Hospital in Ise-shi, Mie, Japan.

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JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.