The purpose of this study was to systematically review the association between handgrip strength (HGS) and mortality, morbidity, and health-related quality of life (HRQL) in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The following databases were used: CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE Ovid, SPORTDiscus, and PsycINFO. Studies published between 2000 and 2020 in English, Portuguese, or French that examined the association of HGS with mortality, morbidity, and HRQL in individuals with stable COPD were selected. Two authors independently extracted data and assessed the quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation framework. The study effects were pooled using random effects meta-analysis models after assessing heterogeneity. The search generated 710 studies, and 18 were included in the review. Studies evaluated a total of 12,046 individuals with stable COPD (mean percent of the predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second = 34%–80%) using over 10 diverse protocols for HGS measurement. Statistically significant, small, and negative relationships were found between HGS and mortality (r = −0.03; 95% CI = −0.05 to −0.02). Independent of the outcome measure used to assess morbidity, the estimate of the overall relationship was small to moderate and negative: Body Mass Index, Airflow Obstruction, Dyspnea, and Exercise Index Updated (r = −0.42; 95% CI = −0.61 to −0.03); exacerbations (r = −0.02; 95% CI = −0.04 to −0.00); and hospitalizations (r = −0.69; 95% CI = −1.70 to 0.32). Similarly, for HRQL, independent of the outcome measure, the estimate of the overall relationship was small to fair and negative: COPD Assessment Test (weighted r = −0.22; 95% CI = −0.32 to −0.12), Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire domains (−0.24 < r < −0.14), EuroQol Five-Dimension Questionnaire (utility score) (r = −0.17; 95% CI = −0.26 to −0.07), EuroQol Five-Dimension Questionnaire domains (−0.32 < r < −0.06), and St George Respiratory Questionnaire total (r = −0.26; 95% CI = −0.33 to −0.17). The quality of the evidence ranged from low to very low across outcomes.
Although heterogeneity was present among HGS measurement protocols, small to moderate associations were found, indicating that those with lower HGS have an increased likelihood of death, a higher risk of increased COPD morbidity (as assessed with Body Mass Index, Airflow Obstruction, Dyspnea and Exercise Capacity indexes), and poorer HRQL.