Handgrip strength predicts length of stay and quality of life in and out of hospital
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BACKGROUND: Handgrip strength (HGS) is a practical measure of strength and physical function that can be used to identify frailty among hospitalized patients, but its utility in this setting is unclear. To be considered useful, any functional measure needs to provide pertinent information on the patient and predict relevant outcomes such as health-care utilization (e.g., length of stay (LOS)) and patient-reported quality of life (QOL). The purpose of this study was to determine if HGS predicted LOS and QOL. A second aim was to examine the best sensitivity (SE) and specificity (SP) for predicting length of stay (>7 or >13 days) using previously published cut-points for HGS. METHODOLOGY: HGS was measured on 1136 medical patients shortly after admission with a Lafayette dynamometer. QOL was assessed with the self-reported SF-12 completed with an interviewer during hospitalization and 30- days after discharge via telephone. Physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) component scores of SF-12 were calculated. A variety of covariates were assessed (e.g., nutritional status). Multivariate analyses stratified by sex were completed. RESULTS: The mean LOS was 12.71 days (median = 8.00; SD = 13.20), 12.88 days (SD = 13.82) for males, and 12.58 days (SD = 12.68) for females. Lower admission HGS scores were associated with longer LOS (male X2 = 7.85, p < 0.05; female X2 = 14.9, p < 0.0001). The average quality of life scores were as follows: in hospital PCS: 34.66, MCS: 46.49; post discharge PCS: 36.17; MCS: 51.22. HGS predicted PCS during hospitalization (male X2 = 36.22, p < 0.0001; female X2 = 19.87, p < 0.0001) and post hospitalization (male X2 = 6.98, p < 0.01; female X2 = 10.99, p < 0.01). Various reference cut-points for HGS were tested against LOS, with none being considered appropriate (e.g., SE and SP both < 70) when adjusting for age and sex. CONCLUSION: Admission HGS adds predictive value for both LOS and physical components of QOL and is worth pursuing in practice to identify potential frailty and the need for proactive steps to mitigate further functional decline during hospitalization. However, HGS cut-points for LOS specific to acute care patients need to be defined and tested.
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